Marriage is no longer the end goal for many couples. These days, many people are looking towards staying or commencing a “de-facto” relationship. Although the premise is the same (two people living under one roof and are in a committed relationship), some fundamental differences separate a couple that is legally married and one that is in a de-facto relationship.

What Does Australian Law Say? 

According to the 1975 Family Law Act, a de-facto relationship is established when two people are in a relationship and:

  1. they are not legally married to each other or another person;
  2. illustrate they are part of a genuine relationship
  3. they live together domestically and;
  4. are not related by family

Do De Facto Couples Get The Same Treatment As Married Couples? 

For a very long time, de-facto couples weren’t given the same rights as married couples. They were treated differently in Court and there was no sense of entitlement from either person. However, with the growing rise of de facto relationships in Australian society, the 1975 Family Law Act was adjusted in 2009 to give de-facto couples the same obligations as married couples. The changes also included same-sex de-facto relationships.

How To Determine If You Are In A De Facto Relationship? 

However, as easy as it is to determine if people are not legally married and are not related by blood, understanding if they are in a de-facto relationship can be a little more tricky. How does the law and judge decide if a couple is in this type of relationship? The Family Law Act provides a list of factors that should be taken into consideration. You don’t have to tick all the boxes on this list, but the more information that is provided, the better it is to determine to the law that you are part of a de facto relationship. The key factors include the following:

  • The length of the relationship (standard period of at least two years)
  • That the relationship is or was registered under another Australian State or Territory
  • The commitment of both parties to the relationship
  • The relationship is public and open to family and friends
  • Whether a sexual connection can be established
  • The care and support for any children (if there are any) and whether children are an option for the future
  • Whether the household is a common residence for both persons
  • The ownership – and future ownership – of any property
  • The financial factors involved, including:
    – Degree of financial dependence or interdependence
    – Future arrangements of financial supports between the persons

The more information you provide to demonstrate your relationship, the better chance you have of being established and given the equal rights of married couples. If you would like more information on de-facto relationships and court cases, contact Mirabellas Solicitors on 9898 3100 for a free consultation.