De Facto Relationships

In Australia, married, de facto and same sex couples largely 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. Under this legislation, de facto couples include same sex couples.

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 as a financial agreement.

Maintenance

Maintenance for de facto couples will be 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 either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. De facto couples include same sex couples.

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

In considering an application for maintenance, the Court takes into account such matters as the age of the parties, 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 the age or disability of a party in considering the timeframe for the order.

Financial arrangements

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

De facto couples can enter into agreements at the start of and during their relationship and in the event of the breakdown of their relationship. The agreements are referred to as financial agreements and in order to be binding some strict rules need to be followed.

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.

Benefit from a balanced approach to family law

At Pigdon|Norgate Family Lawyers, we are able to assist you with all aspects of your de facto relationship.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss any questions you may have about your relationship.