Under the Family Law Act, a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:-
- the couple are not legally married to each other; and
- the couple are not related by family; and
- having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
Are you in a de facto relationship or just dating?
Some of the factors that are taken into account when a Court has to determine whether a couple were in a de facto relationship include:-
- the length of the relationship;
- the nature and extent of the couple's common residence;
- whether a sexual relationship existed;
- whether there was financial support between the couple;
- the ownership, use and acquisition of shared property
- the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- the care and support of children;
- the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
Generally, a former partner cannot make a claim against the other following separation unless:-
- the de facto relationship is of at least 2 years duration; or
- there is a child of the de facto relationship; or
- a party to the de facto relationship made substantial contributions to the other's property, or failure to make a property order would result in serious injustice.
Prior to starting to live together, or during the relationship, you and your partner might want to consider entering into a Financial Agreement which sets out how, in the event of the breakdown of the relationship, your assets and liabilities will be divided.
Having a Financial Agreement takes away the fears and uncertainties of claims being made against each other into the future and is particularly beneficial for couples who
- are entering into their second or subsequent relationship;
- wish to protect their assets for children from their earlier relationships;
- wish to protect already established family wealth
In some circumstances, such Financial Agreements are also beneficial to young couples embarking on their first relationship.
ATW Family Law has extensive experience in acting for de facto couples in drafting Financial Agreements, negotiating financial settlements following separation and litigating property entitlements through the Courts.