De facto relationships in Australia are defined as a relationship between two people who are not married but live together in a genuine domestic relationship. These relationships are recognized under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and are afforded the same legal protections as married couples.
What constitutes a de facto relationship?
One of the key aspects of de facto relationships is the duration of the relationship. In Australia, a de facto relationship is said to exist when the couple has been living together on a genuine domestic basis for at least two years. However, this requirement may be waived in certain circumstances, such as when there is a child of the relationship or where one partner has made significant contributions to the relationship.
Property and financial matters
When it comes to property and financial matters, the law treats de facto couples in much the same way as married couples. In the event of a separation, the couple’s assets and liabilities will be divided according to the principles of property settlement under the Family Law Act. This may involve a Court Order outlining the division of property, or an agreement between the couple reached through negotiation or mediation.
In determining the division of property, the Court will consider a range of factors, including the length of the relationship, the financial contributions made by each partner, and the non-financial contributions made by each partner (such as caring for children or maintaining the household). The Court may also consider future needs, such as the earning capacity of each partner and their health and age.
De facto couples also have legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to children. In Australia, the welfare and best interests of the child are the primary considerations in any decision relating to parenting arrangements. This may involve shared parenting or one parent having primary responsibility for the child.
In determining parenting arrangements, the Court will consider a range of factors, including the child’s wishes and preferences (depending on their age and maturity), the relationship between the child and each parent, and the practical considerations of the child’s living arrangements (such as proximity to school and family).
De facto couples in Australia are also entitled to claim spousal maintenance in certain circumstances. Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one partner to the other in order to help them meet their reasonable living expenses. This may be necessary where one partner has a significantly lower income or earning capacity than the other, or where one partner has caring responsibilities that limit their ability to work.
It’s important to note that de facto relationships can be complex, and the legal requirements and entitlements can vary depending on individual circumstances. If you are in a de facto relationship and have concerns about your legal rights or responsibilities, it is important to seek legal advice from a family law specialist.
If you are in a de facto relationship and have concerns about your legal rights or obligations, our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers at Leach Legal can provide you with advice to ensure you are fully informed of your options and entitlements.