De Facto Relationships

This guide is intended to be general in nature, and Commins Hendriks Solicitors recommends you seek legal advice tailored to your needs and specific circumstances. Commins Hendriks’ team of family law professionals can help you with your questions.

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship is a relationship between two people who live together as a couple and who are not married or otherwise related.

De facto relationships can include:

  • Heterosexual couples;
  • Two persons of the same sex; and
  • Parties who may be married to other people, or involved in another de facto relationship at the same time.

In considering whether a de facto relationship exists, it is necessary to consider several aspects of the relationship, including:

  • The length of the relationship;
  • The living arrangements;
  • Whether there is a sexual relationship;
  • The financial arrangements;
  • Care of children;
  • How much the couple has a shared life and common objectives;
  • How others view their relationship; and
  • Household duties.

Relationships that give rise to a property claim

If a de facto relationship breaks down, the parties may have rights to seek a property settlement.

Prerequisites for making a claim

  • At least one party must have been a resident in an Australian state or territory (excluding Western Australia) when the Court proceedings were commenced, or the consent arrangements were finalised; and
  • At least one of the following conditions is satisfied;
    • The period of the relationship is at least two years; or
    • There is a child of the relationship; or
    • The person seeking a settlement has made substantial contributions to the relationship and would suffer unfair hardship if proceedings could not be commenced; or
    • The relationship was registered in an Australian state or territory.

What will be considered when settling a property claim?

  • Financial contributions to the relationship;
  • Non-financial contributions to the relationship;
  • Contributions made by either party to the care and welfare of the other party or of any children including any role as homemaker and parent; and
  • The future needs of both parties.

For further information regarding property settlements, please refer to the Commins Hendriks Plain English Guide Property Settlements

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