Family Law
October 24, 2022
What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship, the law requires that you and your partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. Generally, the Family Law Act only applies to de facto relationships for couples who have been living together for at least two years or if there is a child of the relationship.

Registered Relationships

A couple in a de facto relationship can register their relationship with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

If you are in a registered relationship, you will not need to provide evidence of your de facto relationship to apply to the Court to have your financial matter determined.

De facto financial disputes

When a de facto relationship has broken down, you can apply to the Court to have the financial matters determined in the same way as marriages.

The application to the Court must be made within two years of the breakdown of the de facto relationship. If you do not apply within this period, you must have the Court’s permission to apply.

The Court must be satisfied of the following before they can determine your de facto financial dispute:

  • You were in a genuine de facto relationship with your former partner which has broken down;
  • You meet one of the following four gateway criteria:
  • That the de facto relationship lasted at least 2 years;
  • That there is a child in the de facto relationship;
  • That the relationship is or was registered;
  • When assessing property or custodial claims in cases of a breakdown of a relationship, it is recognised that significant contributions were being made by one party and the failure to issue an order would result in a serious injustice.
  • You live in a state which recognises de facto relationships; and
  • Your relationship broke down after 1 March 2009.

If you wish to make an application to the Court, we recommend obtaining legal advice about whether your circumstances satisfy the criteria.


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