For many reasons two persons choose to live in a de facto relationship rather than marrying.

In accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act”) the court has the ability to make property and children’s orders where it can be shown that the parties are in a de facto relationship. The meaning of a de facto relationship is set out in section 4(1) of the Act as follows:

A person is in a de facto relationship if:

  • The persons are not legally married to each other; and
  • The persons are not related to each other; and
  • Having regard to all the circumstances of the relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

A de facto relationship may be between persons of differing or the same sex and can exist where one of the persons is legally married or in a concurrent de facto relationship. To determine whether a couple are in a de facto relationship the court will look at many factors including, but not limited to the following:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • Whether they live together
  • Whether the relationship is sexual in nature
  • The degree of financial independence
  • Whether the couple have any joint property
  • The degree of mutual commitment of a shared life together
  • Whether the relationship is registered
  • Care and support of children
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship

It should be noted that living together is only one factor for the court to consider when determining the existence of a de facto relationship. The court can establish the existence of a de facto relationship even where a couple have not been living together on a full or even a half time basis or maybe now at all. The individual circumstances of each couple will always be considered and it is not necessary that all of the above-mentioned factors be present.

In the event of separation after a de facto relationship you have two years from the date of separation to make a property claim. Whilst the Act requires at least a two-year relationship, where the couple have had a child together or where one party made significant contributions to the relationship the court will consider such factors to determine whether the two-year limit can be amended. However, when a relationship has been properly registered, it is usually taken as conclusive evidence of your de facto relationship, in the absence of any fraud.

If you or someone you know, requires further information regarding a de facto relationship or protecting their assets, please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Have a wonderful day,


0419 233 670

I am available to discuss matters either in my office or by Zoom conference; and provide notary services which must be in person.

JCL Legal is a law firm where Liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Published On: November 30th, 2022 / Categories: Family Law /

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