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Interdependent Partner vs De Facto: 3 Key Points You Need to Know

interdependent partner vs de facto | Justice Family Lawyers

Are you in a committed relationship but not married? You may have heard the terms “interdependent partner” and “de facto” used interchangeably, but under Australian family law, these terms have distinct meanings and legal implications.

Let’s untangle the confusion and explore the subtle but important differences between these relationship definitions.

What is the difference between an interdependent partner and a de facto partner?

While the terms ‘interdependent partner’ and ‘de facto’ are often interchanged, they represent distinct types of relationships with different legal implications in Australia.  Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Interdependent PartnerDe Facto
DefinitionA relationship between two people who are closely involved and mutually reliant but do not meet the legal criteria to be recognised as de facto.Legally recognised under the Family Law Act 1975, a de facto relationship is a partnership between two individuals who are not legally married but live together on a genuine domestic basis, sharing their lives as a couple.
Legal BasisThis type of relationship is not formally defined in Australian family law but may be considered in some contexts, such as immigration or certain government benefits.De facto partners are subject to many of the same laws regarding property division, inheritance, and other legal matters as married couples.
Duration of RelationshipNot typically a strict duration requirement but the quality of the relationship is assessed.De facto partners generally have lived together on a genuine domestic basis for at least two years (unless there are children involved or significant contributions made).

Also read: From Cohabitation to Courtroom: De Facto Relationship Rights Australia

Are interdependent partners eligible for the same benefits as de facto partners?

The legal rights and benefits afforded to interdependent and de facto partners can vary significantly.

Interdependent partners may be eligible for some benefits, such as certain government payments or immigration considerations if they can demonstrate their commitment and mutual reliance. However, they generally have fewer automatic legal rights than de facto partners.

De facto partners are entitled to many of the same legal rights and benefits as married couples in Australia. This includes the right to seek a property settlement, spousal maintenance upon separation, and inheritance rights if one partner dies without a valid will. De facto partners may also be eligible for tax benefits and other government entitlements.

What is legally required to dissolve an interdependent relationship vs. a de facto one?

While neither an interdependent relationship nor a de facto relationship requires a formal “divorce” in the same sense as a marriage, the legal process for dissolving these relationships in Australia can vary significantly.

Dissolving an Interdependent Relationship

As interdependent relationships are not formally recognised under Australian family law, there are no specific legal requirements for dissolving such a relationship.

The process generally involves the mutual agreement of both parties to end the relationship and resolve any shared responsibilities or assets through informal negotiations or mediation.

Dissolving a De Facto Relationship

Dissolving a de facto relationship, especially when it involves substantial assets, children, or a long period of cohabitation, often requires legal intervention and follows a process similar to divorce.

If there are disputes over property division or parenting arrangements, either party can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a property settlement or parenting orders

Also read: How to Cancel a De Facto Relationship Legally? 

Confused about your legal rights as a couple?

Whether you consider yourself in an interdependent relationship or a de facto partnership, understanding your legal rights and obligations is essential.

At Justice Family Lawyers, our experienced team is dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of Australian family law and ensuring your interests are protected.

Don’t leave your rights and future to chance. Contact Justice Family Lawyers today and take the first step towards securing the legal protections and benefits you deserve.

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