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Defacto Relatioships

Are you in a defacto relationship?

happy coupleUnder the Family Law Act 1975 couples can be either opposite sex or same-sex to be in a defacto relationship.

In order to meet the threshold requirements under the Family Law Act, parties to a defacto relationship must have a geographical connection to either Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory (Western Australia is not a participant under the Family Law Act).

In order for the Court to consider whether or not you are in a defacto relationship they need to give consideration to the following:

  • The duration of the relationship (i.e. in a defacto relationship for two years either for one continuous period of two years, or made up of more than one separate period but when added together totalling two years);
  • The nature and extent of the common residence;
  • Whether or not a sexual or intimate relationship exists;
  • Financial dependents or inter-dependents between the parties;
  • How the parties own, acquire and use their property;
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • Whether or not that relationship has or was registered under any state or territory that has a relationship register;
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship;
  • There is a child of the relationship.

While the Court considers these factors as a whole none of the factors alone offer more weight or carry more importance than any of the other factors.  The above factors are considered as a whole in determining whether or not a defacto relationship exists.

What can you do if you don’t think your relationship falls under the defacto relationship test?

In the event you and your partner have only been together for a short period (under two years) and you don’t believe you will meet the threshold requirements of a defacto relationship, the Family Law Act still makes provision for you to make an application for a property settlement on the basis that you have made a substantial financial or non-financial contribution to property, or as a homemaker or parent and that a serious injustice would follow if the Court did not make an order in this case.

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