FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What's A Defacto Relationship

Justice Family Lawyers Sydney

A de facto relationship is a relationship between two people, who are neither married nor related to each other, living together on a genuine domestic basis.

The Family Law Act 1975 specifies that two people of the same or opposite sex can be in a de facto relationship, as well as that a person can be in a de facto relationship at the same time as being legally married to or in another de facto relationship with someone else. Since 2009, family law disputes between de facto spouses have been treated the same as those between married spouses.

The court looks at a variety of criteria to determine whether two people were in a de facto relationship.

The factors include the duration of the relationship, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, the degree of commitment to a shared life, whether a sexual relationship exists, the care of children, whether the relationship was registered in a state or territory and the public aspects of the relationship.

Registering a de facto relationship can be done at a Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

This provides a form of legal recognition of the relationship.

When a person who was in a de facto relationship applies to the court to have a financial dispute with their former partner resolved, certain restrictions apply.

De facto couples have two years from the date of separation in which to apply for financial orders.

There are also four gateway criteria, one of which has to be met: the relationship lasted for at least two years, there is a child of the relationship, the relationship was registered in a state or territory, or significant contributions were made by one party and it would be a serious injustice to not issue financial orders.

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