I am in a relationship with someone but how do I know if we are in a de facto relationship or not?
You and your partner are regarded as being in a de facto relationship if you are living together on a genuine domestic basis. This often occurs when a couple lives together and they have joint finances. However, there are also cases where parties may be living in separate residences and still be considered to be in a de facto relationship.
In determining whether a couple is in a de facto relationship or not, the Court will take into account a number of considerations including the following:
- If they have a common residence
- Whether a sexual relationship exists
- The extent to which they have joint finances and whether they provide financial support to one another
- Whether they have children from their relationship
- Whether they hold themselves in public as being in a de facto relationship
- The ownership, use, and acquisition of their property.
As each relationship is unique, there is no “one size fits all” approach to determining the existence of a de facto relationship. If you and your partner disagree as to whether you are in a de facto relationship or not, we recommend that you seek advice from an experienced family lawyer to assess your situation based on your particular circumstances.
Are same-sex de facto couples treated differently from heterosexual de facto couples if there is a dispute about their property or children’s issues?
No. Under Australian Law, same-sex de facto couples are treated in the same way if there is a dispute with regards to their children and/or their property.
How long does a de facto relationship need to be before I am eligible to apply for a property settlement or spousal maintenance?
You can apply for a property settlement or spousal maintenance if the duration of the de facto relationship has been at least 2 years long.
However, you may still be eligible to apply for a property settlement or spousal maintenance if their de facto relationship was shorter than 2 years if:
- There is a child of the de facto relationship; or
- A party to the de facto relationship has made substantial contributions and a serious injustice would be caused to such party if no order is made in their favour; or
- The de facto relationship was registered under a State Law.
Is there a time limit for applying for a property settlement or spousal maintenance after our separation?
Yes. You have 2 years from the date of separation to make an application for property settlement or spousal maintenance. However, there are some exceptions where you may be able to apply outside the 2 year period if you obtain the court’s permission.
If you have any other specific questions or require advice on de facto relationships, please contact Anthi Balafas, Accredited Specialist in Family Law.