What is a de facto relationship?
A de facto relationship is a relationship where two people (of either the same or opposite sex), are not legally married or related to one another, but live together on a genuine domestic basis.
If you are in a de facto relationship, you have certain rights under the Family Law Act, especially when it comes to the division of property following a relationship breakdown. Keep reading to learn more about de facto relationships, or speak to a family lawyer at Beger & Co.
How long before you are in a de facto relationship?
Generally, rights under the Family Law Act 1975 apply when a couple has been living together for 2 years or there are children of the relationship. If there are also significant contributions to joint property, an exception may be made to this rule.
How do you prove a de facto relationship?
To establish you’re a de facto couple, there are 5 factors that are considered. These include:
- The financial interdependence of the relationship, such as:
- Whether there are arrangements for paying household expenses such as electricity, water, food or telephones.
- Both names being listed on lease agreements or mortgage applications
- If there is joint ownership of major assets or joint liabilities
- The nature of the household (if you live under the same roof as another person)
- The social aspect of the relationship (how you present yourselves to society as a couple and how others view you)
- The presence or absence of a sexual relationship (note: the presence or absence in itself does not prove there is/isn’t a de facto relationship. This factor considers whether there has been the existence of such a relationship and whether it is ongoing and exclusive).
- The nature of the commitment (whether there is an emotional attachment that is different to the commitment of anyone else at the time or to the relationships with close relatives, friends or co-tenants).
In South Australia, you can also register your relationship with the Consumer and Business Services (CBS) to ensure your relationship is legally recognised.
Do you have to live together to be in a de facto relationship?
Not necessarily. You could be in a long term committed relationship where you don’t live together and still be considered to be in a de facto relationship. Take the example from the Social Security Guide:
Two people have been in an ongoing intimate relationship for 8 years but live at separate addresses. Although the 2 are committed to their relationship and are perceived by family and friends to be a couple, they have no plans to live together as neither wishes to significantly alter their lifestyle. The couple have separate bank accounts but often pool their resources for holidays, bills and meals, and they share ownership of a holiday home.
Finding – the parties may be considered to be in a de facto relationship, despite not living together, as they have an intimate and ongoing relationship, are recognised socially as being in a relationship, and pool resources in certain situations.
What happens in the separation of a de facto relationship?
Similar to a marriage breakdown, your property, liabilities and assets may need to be divided. If you can come to an agreement with your ex-spouse, a property settlement lawyer can help you draw up a legally binding agreement. You may also be able to receive de facto relationship break up entitlements such as spousal maintenance or child support.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you will need to take your case to Family Court. Don’t hesitate to speak to the separation and divorce lawyers at Beger & Co if you still have questions.
Division of property in de facto relationships
Just like a divorce property settlement, there are 4 steps that are taken to determine how property is divided. These include identifying the property (including assets and liabilities and their value), who contributed what, the future needs of the parties and if the settlement is fair. Learn more from our property settlement lawyers.
Speak to Beger & Co’s de facto separation lawyers
Need help proving a de facto relationship exists or with your post-separation property settlement? The lawyers at Beger & Co are here to help you every step of the way.
Our lawyers have years of experience in dealing with the following:
- Divorce and separation
- Child custody (learn more from our child custody lawyers)
- Spousal maintenance
- Prenuptial and binding financial agreements
- Family dispute resolution and mediation
- Property settlements
Call our family lawyers on 08 8362 6400 to discuss your matter on a no obligation basis. You can also contact the Beger & Co team online.