Disadvantages of De Facto Relationships

Justice Family Lawyers Sydney

Since 2009, Australian family law has treated married couples and de facto couples largely the same.

In the event of a relationship breakdown, they have the same rights when it comes to property settlements, spousal maintenance, parenting orders and receiving child support.

The main difference is that because there is no marriage certificate showing that the two people were in a committed relationship, access to these entitlements is based on being able to show that the parties were in fact in a de facto relationship.

Disadvantages to being in a De Facto Relationship

However, there are disadvantages to being in a De Facto Relationship instead of a marriage. People in De Facto Relationships must prove that they were in fact in a genuine domestic relationship in order to obtain the same rights as married persons in property settlements, spousal maintenance and parenting orders. For instance, in order to be eligible to apply for a property division or spousal maintenance, couples must show that:

  1. They were in a relationship that lasted for at least two years
  2. There is a child of the relationship
  3. The relationship was registered in a state or territory
  4. Significant contributions were made by one party and it would be an injustice if no property order be made.

These gateway requirements do not apply to married couples seeking orders after separation or divorce.

However, as with married couples, there is a time limit to which de facto partners can apply for orders from the court in regard to parenting or property. This time limit is up to 2 years after the date of separation, while for married couples it is up to 1 year after the finalisation of their divorce.

What is a De Facto Relationship?

A De Facto Relationship is one where two people, who are unrelated, live together in a genuine domestic relationship.

It is registered with the relevant registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

The difference between a De Facto Relationship and a marriage is that no marriage certificate has been issued to show that two people have been committed in a relationship.

However, you will get a certificate establishing the registration of your De Facto relationship.

A De Facto Relationship is one step above an ordinary relationship, in the eyes of the law, because it is treated in almost the same way as marriages. Married couples cannot register De Facto Relationships.

Why would you register yourself as in a De Facto Relationship?

A benefit of registering your relationship as a De Facto Relationship is that you have the rights as a married couple when it comes to property settlements, spousal maintenance, parenting orders and child support, in the event that your relationship breaks down.


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