How can you determine whether you’re in a de facto relationship? Have you been in a committed relationship but living at separate residences, or are you sleeping at each other’s homes every week but haven’t officially moved in together?
Under the Australian law, when it comes to property settlements during a separation, de facto couples share the same rights and liabilities than those of a married couple, including claims relating to spousal maintenance and superannuation splits. The question that many people’s lips are when are you legally classified as a de facto couple and when is it possible for a partner to claim upon your assets?
More and more couples choose to live together before considering marriage. The statistics reveal the numbers of one in five couples in 1979 to almost four in five couples in 2012. It is highly beneficial to know the legal implications when you’re living together in a de facto relationship.
How Do You Know Your Relationship Falls Under The Category Of A De-Facto Relationship?
An individual is classified to be in a de facto relationship with a partner when:
Individuals who are not legally married to their partner, but they have been in a relationship as a couple and living together on an unpretentious domestic basis. This includes relations between persons of the same gender. In case of you and your partner breaking up and you are not sure of your rights, then it is time to book a consultation with a de facto lawyer to figure out what your next move should be.
Whether the couple is living together is only one factor that the Court will consider determining whether your relationship is indeed a de facto relationship.
Other Factors Will Include:
- The duration of your relationship
- The nature and degree of the couple’s common residence
- Whether the couple was in a sexual relationship
- The extent of financial independence or interdependence between the partners.
- The use, ownership and acquisition of property
- The degree of shared commitment to a communal life
- The support and care of children.
- The reputation and public characteristics of the relationship
How Do You Proceed With A Claim, Following The Separation Of A De-Facto Relationship?
There is a time limit of two years from the date of your break-up to make a property claim against your former de facto partner. De facto couples who have separated come under the patronages of the Family Law Act. The person who is applying must prove that a de facto relationship indeed existed for at least two years and that the separation occurred after 1 March 2009.
In some cases, the Court will consider a de facto relationship existed when a couple have been together for a period less than two years, for example:
- The couple had a child together, or
- Where one person made significant financial or non-financial contributions to the relationship.
- Where the relationship was registered by the couple under the relevant state of territory law. This is deemed conclusive and automatic evidence of the relationship’s existence regardless of how long the relationship lasted.