De facto relationships
Since 1 March 2009, property issues concerning de facto relationships have been dealt with under the Family Law Act in almost the same way as for marriage relationships. (Parenting issues concerning de facto relationships have been dealt with under the Family Law Act since its inception.)
Section 4AA(1) of the Family Law Act defines de facto relationship. The definition provides that partners (or former partners), who may be of the same or opposite sex (section 4AA(5)(a)), had a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis but provides that a relationship is not a de facto relationship if the parties were legally married to one another or are related by family. A de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship (section 4AA(5(b)).
Section 4AA(2) lists circumstances relevant to determining whether a de facto relationship exists as:
- the duration of the relationship;
- the nature and extent of their common residence;
- whether a sexual relationship exists;
- the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;
- the ownership, use and acquisition of their property
- the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of relationship;
- the care and support of children
- the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
The limitation period for de facto relationship property and maintenance matters is two years from the breakdown of the relationship (section 44(5)).