The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) defines a de facto relationship to be a relationship where the persons are not legally married to each other, are not related by family, and that live together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.
But how do we know if a couple lives together on a genuine domestic basis? To decide the answer to this question, the Court looks at the following aspects of a relationship:
- The duration of the relationship;
- The nature and extent of their common residence;
- Whether a sexual relationship exists;
- The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
- The ownership, use, and acquisition of their property;
- The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- Whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a state or territory as a prescribed kind of relationship;
- The care and support of children;
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
Whilst there are several aspects listed above, all of these factors do not have to be present when deciding if the persons are in a de facto relationship. Further, there is not one aspect that is more important than another.
Unlike marriage, a person can be in a de facto relationship with more than one person at any one time, and they can also be in a de facto relationship with a person if they are legally married to another.
Those in a de facto relationship that breaks down can seek the assistance of the courts in determining their disputes over the care of the children or the division of their property in the same way as married couples. However, those in de facto relationships must be aware that they must apply for any financial orders within two years of the breakdown of their relationship.
If you have any questions, or you’re navigating the breakdown of a relationship, don't hesitate to reach out to our team on 1800 650 656. We're here to help you and your family.
Lauren Ryan | Family Law Solicitor