De Facto Relationships

According to the Family Law Act you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not legally married to each other, you are not related by family and you have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

In assessing if you are living together on a genuine domestic basis, the Court may look to:

  • the duration of the relationship;
  • the nature and extent of a 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 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/Territory;
  • the care and support of children; and
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

The Family Law Act recognises that a party could be in multiple de facto relationships, or that a person who is married could be a party to de facto property proceedings (refer to s4AA(5)(b)).

To qualify as a party to a de facto relationship under the Act, usually, you will need to demonstrate that you have lived together for at least two years. This requirement can be waived if there is a child of the relationship, or if there have been significant contributions to property, or other special circumstances.