De Facto Relationships

When does a De Facto relationship exist?

Parties to a relationship may have differing views as to what stage their relationship is at and the level of commitment each party has towards their relationship.

One party to a relationship may be content to be involved in the relationship, but not wish to “commit” to the relationship to the extent that it is recognized at law as a de facto relationship.

The Declaration of whether parties are in a de facto relationship is not dependent upon the intention of the parties, but rather the circumstances of, and surrounding, the relationship.

The Family Law Act considers the following factors in assessing whether or not a de facto relationship exists:

  • The duration of the relationship.
  • The nature and extent of common residence.
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists.
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangement of financial support.
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of the parties’ 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.
  • The care and support of children.
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

However, the Family Court will not automatically hear a property and/or maintenance application if parties satisfy the above definition of a de facto relationship.

The Court must be first satisfied of the following:

  • That the de facto relationship existed or lasted for at least 2 years; or
  • There is a child of the de facto relationship: or
  • That:

a. The applicant has made substantial contributions; and

b. The failure to make the order or declaration sought would result in serious injustice to the applicant; or

  • The de facto relationship was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory.