De Facto Advantages and Disadvantages: 3 Essential Factors You Need to Know

de facto advantages and disadvantages | Melbourne Family Lawyers

De Facto Advantages and Disadvantages

When it comes to relationships, the term “de facto” has gained significant legal standing in Australia.

While many consider de facto relationships a more flexible alternative to traditional marriage, weighing the advantages and disadvantages is crucial.

This article aims to provide you with a balanced view.

What is a De Facto Relationship?

A de facto relationship refers to a domestic partnership between two individuals who live together on a genuine domestic basis but are not legally married or in a registered civil partnership.

The court considers various factors like the duration of the relationship, financial interdependence, and public perception to determine if a relationship qualifies as de facto.

Advantages of a De Facto Relationship

Legal Rights Similar to Marriage

De facto partners have similar rights and entitlements to those of married couples, including property settlements and child custody arrangements.

Flexibility and Autonomy

Being in a de facto relationship allows for more flexibility as there’s no formal marriage contract binding the two individuals.

No Divorce Costs

If you separate, there’s no cost of divorce, which can be a financial relief for many.

Binding Financial Agreements

Also known as “pre-nups,” these agreements can offer protection in case of a relationship breakdown. They can outline property division, financial matters, and even spousal maintenance arrangements.

Spousal Maintenance

Yes, you can seek spousal maintenance in a de facto relationship in Australia. However, eligibility varies based on factors like the length of the relationship, financial needs, and childcare responsibilities.

Disadvantages of a De Facto Relationship

Time Limits for Legal Proceedings

De facto couples have a two-year window from the date of separation to finalise any property settlement matters or maintenance applications.

Property Division

Assets brought into the relationship by one party are generally included in the property pool for division upon separation, which might not be advantageous for everyone.

Ambiguity in Separation Date

Without a precise divorce date, determining the date of separation can become a contentious issue, complicating legal proceedings.

Providing You With Legal Guidance

When the client came into our office, she was at a crossroads in her relationship.

She was contemplating the long-term implications of staying in a de facto relationship with her partner and wanted to understand the legal advantages and disadvantages.

We immediately started laying out the Australian legal landscape surrounding de facto relationships. 

We explained that de facto relationships offer many of the same legal protections as traditional marriages, including property settlements and child custody arrangements.

However, we also highlighted some pitfalls, such as the two-year time limit for initiating legal proceedings post-separation and the complexities surrounding property division.

We discussed the option of a binding financial agreement, often referred to as a “prenup,” which could offer her additional protections. 

To give her a comprehensive view, we also touched on spousal maintenance, detailing how the court considers various factors like the length of the relationship, financial needs, and childcare responsibilities.

Seek Legal Advice

De facto relationships offer advantages and disadvantages that may vary based on individual circumstances. Understanding these can help you make informed decisions about your relationship.

If you’re in a de facto relationship or considering entering one, it’s advisable to consult a family lawyer to understand your legal rights and responsibilities fully.

So, what’s the verdict? Is a de facto relationship the right fit for you? Before you decide, seek legal advice to understand the implications fully.

After all, knowledge is power, especially concerning matters of the heart and law.

Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.

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