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De facto Relationship under Australian Law

de facto rights

The definition of a de facto relationship is prescribed under the Family Law Act 1975.

A de facto relationship is a relationship between two people, who are not legally married or
related by family and lived together on a genuine domestic basis.

Under Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 a de facto relationship intends to protect the
escalating number of couples who cohabit but choose not enter into a legal marriage.

If you live with someone as part of a couple for a period of 2 years, Commonwealth law will
recognise your de facto relationship and your rights will most likely be the same as married

Am I in a de facto relationship?

There is an degree of difficulty when establishing whether two people have been in a de
facto relationship. The Court will evaluate using the following factors:-

  • The length of the relationship, for example whether parties lived together for a period of 2 years or more;
  • Whether a sexual relationship occurred;
  • Whether there are any children of the relationship;
  • The extent and nature of shared residence;
  • The degree of financial dependence between the parties;
  • The degree of mutual commitment for a shared life;
  • Whether the parties carried on in public (to family/ friends etc) as a couple; and/or
  • ownership, use and acquisition of the parties’ property.

This is not a comprehensive list. Courts will use their discretion when determining whether a
de facto relationship existed. Not all factors abovementioned need to be present nor will one
factor necessarily be given more weight than another.

Difference between a legal marriage and a de facto relationship?

Married couples merely need to provide their marriage certificate to prove its existence and
the length of the marriage, whereas de facto couples are challenged with proving these
elements if the other party disputes it.

Separating de factos

There is a two year period from the date of separation to initiate Court proceedings. Outside
of this time frame means parties are precluded from bringing an application, without
permission from the Court. If you find yourself in this circumstance, please contact Cleofe
Parsons Legal to assist you.

What are my de facto rights under Australian law?

De facto couples have the same social security rights as married couples. Meaning, if you
separate from your de facto partner and have children, you may be entitled to Centrelink
payments. Furthermore, you may qualify for benefits if you have dependent children, and
your partner dies.

If you are unsure about your rights in a de facto relationship, Cleofe Parsons Legal can
assist by advising you on your rights and obligations should your de facto relationship break
down, we can:

  • Guide you through the mediation process
  • Assist you make a financial agreement that is in your interests
  • Make a parenting plan or negotiate parenting arrangements.
  • Obtain parenting orders from the Court
  • Prepare, represent and argue your case in Court.

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