De Facto Relationships

by | Mar 12, 2024

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De Facto Relationships<br />

In Australia, married and de facto couples have the same rights and entitlements with respect to property, maintenance and parenting matters.

Property settlement

Property and maintenance matters for de facto couples are dealt with under the Family Law Act 1975.

The Court has the power under the Family Law Act 1975 to deal with all property and financial resources held by the parties to a de facto relationship and to divide them justly and equitably after taking into account a number of factors.

Applications for property settlement must be made within 2 years from the date of separation. There are limited circumstances where the Court will allow an application for property settlement to be made after 2 years from the date of separation.

Property matters between de facto partners can also be resolved by negotiation and formalised by Court order or by way of a financial agreement.


Maintenance for de facto couples is dealt with under the Family Law Act 1975. This means that de facto couples largely have the same maintenance rights and remedies as married couples and that any disputes will be dealt with by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

If a party to a de facto relationship is unable to financially support themselves adequately after separation, that party may be entitled to receive maintenance.

In considering an application for maintenance, the Court takes into account matters such as the incomes and earning capacities of the parties, their ages, their health, their obligation to support any other person and their standard of living before separation.

A party can make a maintenance application on an urgent, interim or final basis separately from a property settlement application.

Maintenance orders are usually made for a limited period, however the Court will take into account various factors when considering the timeframe of an order for maintenance.

Financial arrangements

Financial agreements between de facto couples are dealt with by the Family Law Act 1975.

De facto couples can enter into agreements at the commencement of a relationship, during a relationship and in the event of separation. The agreements are referred to as financial agreements and in order to be binding some strict rules need to be followed, including that each party must obtain independent legal advice prior to entering into the financial agreement.

Common questions about de facto relationships

Do de facto couples have the same rights as married couples?
• A de facto couple has the same rights as married couples under the Family Law Act 1979. This is for both financial and parenting matters, as well as superannuation splitting and maintenance.

• The Court takes into account many factors when deciding if a relationship is a de facto relationship and this may be different for each individual couple. The Court will look at factors including: the length of the relationship, if you have children and the financial circumstances such as purchasing property together and one party supporting the other.

De facto relationships

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Put an expert on your side

At Pigdon|Norgate Family Lawyers, we are able to assist you with all aspects of your de facto relationship.

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