These days it is very common for people to live together without being married. A de facto relationship can be between a female and male or people of the same sex and can be in circumstances where one person of the relationship is married or in a de facto relationship with another person.
Despite the common misconception, to be considered to be in a de facto relationship, it is not necessary for a couple to have been living together for 2 years.
Under the Family Law Act, a person is in a de facto relationship when:
- The persons are not legally married to each other; and
- The persons 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.
The Court then looks at the circumstances of the relationship including any or all of the following:
- the duration of the relationship;
- the nature and extent of their common residence (de facto relationships have been found to exist even when the parties do not live together)
- whether a sexual relationship exists;
- the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
- the ownership, use and acquisition of their property;
- the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of relationship;
- the care and support of children;
- the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
People in de facto relationships have the same rights as married people when it comes to family law parenting and property matters.
Contact our family law team if you are unsure whether or not your relationship would be considered to be a de facto relationship.
If you are in a de facto relationship you may wish to obtain advice about available steps to protect your assets.
If your de facto relationship has broken down then you should seek advice about property and/or parenting matters. There are also time limits that apply to property settlements in de facto relationships so it is essential that legal advice is sought as quickly as possible. Call us on 03 5445 1000.