At RNG Lawyers, we have seen a rise in the number of people living in a de facto relationship. It is generally easy to prove whether two people are legally married but establishing whether a de facto relationship does or does not exist can sometimes prove more difficult.
Under the Family Law Act 1975, you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not married to them and you are not related by family and you are living together on a genuine domestic basis as a couple.
To work out if a couple is living together on a genuine domestic basis the following factors will be considered:
How long have the two people been living together?
Does a sexual, intimate or romantic relationship exist?
Do you share a common place of residence?
How are the assets owned? How are they used? And how were they acquired?
Do you or did you both have a mutual commitment to a shared life?
Is your relationship registered within your State or Territory?
Do you have children together?
How do others in your life view your relationship, i.e. your extended family members, your work colleagues and your friends?
Since 1 March 2009, those living in a de facto relationship that has broken down (whether same sex or heterosexual) have been entitled to apply to the Family Law Courts to have property and financial disputes determined. The law is applied in the same way as it is to married couples.
If you wish to make a claim for a property settlement following the breakdown of your de facto relationship, you need to be show that you have been in that de facto relationship for at least two years. The length of your de facto relationship becomes less relevant, or is sometimes irrelevant, if you and your partner have a child together or in some other situations such as if you own property together.
If you think you are or have been in a de facto relationship and may have an entitlement to a property settlement, it is important to remember you only have two years from the date the relationship ended to make a claim. It is important that you obtain specific advice about this time limit without delay if you think it may affect you.
At RNG Lawyers, we understand that each family has its own unique set of circumstances and we are experienced in the area of de facto law. Please contact a member of our Family Law Team for further advice about your relationship so that we may assist you to understand and determine the options available to you.