Are you in a defacto relationship?

A defacto relationship according to the Family Law Act is a relationship with another person who you are not legally married to, who you are not related to by family and that you are in a relationship with, as a couple, living together on a genuine domestic basis.

How does the Court assess if you are living together in a genuine domestic relationship:
  • The Court may look at:
  • The duration of the relationship;
  • The nature and extent of common residence;
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence and arrangements for financial support;
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of each parties’ 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;
  • The care and support of any children; and
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

A defacto relationship does not require a formal ceremony but would automatically apply when two people meet certain criteria. You will need to demonstrate that you have lived together for at least two years or that you have a child together. There are also other exceptional circumstances where the Court may declare that a defacto relationship exists, such as where one party has made substantial financial or non-financial contributions to another parties’ assets or where failure to declare a defacto relationship would result in serious injustice to one of the parties.

The Family Law Act recognises that one party maybe in multiple defacto relationships or that a person who is married may still be party to a defacto relationship with another person.

Author: Amanda Smith