Since 1 March 2009, people who have been living in a de facto relationship which has broken down, have been able to apply to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court to have property and financial matters determined in the same way as married couples.
A de facto relationship may be between same or opposite sex couples. Under the Family Law Act, you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not legally married to each other and you are not related by family and you are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.
In determining if you are living together on a genuine domestic basis, the following factors are looked at:
- How long you have been living together (the duration of the relationship)
- Whether a sexual relationship exists
- Whether you share a common residence
- The ownership, use and acquisition of your property
- The degree of a mutual commitment you have to a shared life together
- Whether your relationship has been registered
- The care and support of children
- The reputation and public aspects of your relationship (how you are viewed by others)
In order to make a claim, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have been in a de facto relationship for at least two years. This is not necessary if there is a child of the relationship, or in some other circumstances such as you have made a significant contribution to the other person’s property.
Whether or not a de facto relationship exists and questions as to when you separated and what contribution either of you had made to the other person’s property, can often create complex issues. Doolan Callaghan Family Lawyers are highly experienced in the area of de facto law and can help by advising you in relation to any issues that may arise in this area.
Importantly, if you consider you are or have been in a de facto relationship and you may have some entitlement or a claim arising from that relationship, you need to take action within two years of the breakdown of the relationship. It is important that you obtain expert advice in relation to this time limit without delay if you consider it may affect you.