What Constitutes a De Facto Relationship: De Facto Law Australia
According to Australian law, a de facto relationship is a relationship between two people who are not married to each other or related but who are living together on a genuine domestic basis.
The law even allows for the possibility of being in a de facto relationship while legally married to someone else.
This applies to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
Key Takeaway: In Australia, a de facto relationship is not limited by marital status or sexual orientation. It involves two people living together on a genuine domestic basis and can even exist alongside a legal marriage to another person.
Legal Rights and Obligations
Partners in a de facto relationship have similar legal rights and obligations as those in a marital relationship.
This includes the right to seek property settlements and spousal maintenance. The Family Law Act 1975 governs de facto relationships at the federal level, while individual states may have additional legislation.
Key Takeaway: Being in a de facto relationship comes with legal rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples.
Criteria for Establishing a De Facto Relationship
The court considers various factors to determine if a relationship qualifies as de facto.
These include a variety of elements that go beyond simply cohabiting, as the court aims to understand the depth and nature of the relationship.
From the duration of the relationship to financial dependencies and even public perception, these criteria help create a holistic view of what constitutes a de facto relationship under Australian law:
– Duration of the relationship
– Nature of residence
– Existence of a sexual relationship
– Financial interdependence
– Public perception of the relationship
Key Takeaway: Multiple factors are considered when determining the status of a de facto relationship, making each case unique.
Social Security Implications
Being in a de facto relationship can also affect social security benefits. For instance, you may be considered a “member of a couple” under the Social Security Act, affecting your entitlements.
Key Takeaway: Your de facto status can impact your eligibility for social security benefits, so it’s important to be aware of the potential implications.
What to Do If the Relationship Ends?
If your de facto relationship breaks down, you can apply for a property settlement within two years of the relationship ending.
Parenting orders can also be applied for, with no time limit.
Key Takeaway: Time is of the essence when a de facto relationship ends, especially concerning property settlements and parenting orders.
Protecting Your Assets
Before moving in with your partner, consider entering into a binding financial agreement, colloquially known as a prenup.
This can provide both parties with a sense of security and clarity. A well-drafted prenup can outline how assets and liabilities will be divided in the event of a relationship breakdown, reducing potential conflicts.
It can also specify arrangements for spousal support, giving both parties a clearer understanding of what to expect financially during the relationship and if it ends.
Key Takeaway: A prenup isn’t just a safety net; it’s a practical tool for financial planning and can help avoid contentious disputes in the future.
Legal Experts Can Provide Tailored Guidance
Understanding de facto law in Australia is essential for anyone in or considering such a relationship. From legal rights to social security implications, being informed can help you make better decisions for your future.
However, while this guide provides a comprehensive overview, it’s crucial to remember that every relationship is unique.
Laws can change, and individual circumstances can significantly impact how those laws apply to you.
Therefore, seeking professional legal advice is highly recommended. Legal experts can provide tailored guidance that considers your situation, ensuring that you’re aware of your rights and obligations and equipped to protect them.
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.