De Facto laws in NSW are linked with De Facto relationships. In relation to Family Law, a de facto relationship is the term used when there exists a close personal relationship between two people, who live together as a couple, and when one or each of them provides domestic support and personal care to the other, but are not legally married.
The aim of this article is to discuss de facto relationship laws in NSW, in cases where the relationship has broken down.
Under the Family Law Act 1975, a person is considered to be in a de facto relationship with someone, if: –
- The persons are not legally married to each other.
- The persons are not related by family.
- Considering all circumstances of their relationship, they are sharing a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
Proof Of De Facto Relationship NSW: –
In cases where matters are escalated to Courts, the Court considers a few points that can act as proof of the de facto relationship. These include: –
- The length of the relationship
- Under what arrangements the parties lived together, and to what extent
- Whether there was a sexual relationship between concerned parties
- The degree of commitment of both the parties to live a life together.
- The extent to which both the parties are financially dependent on each other
- The use of property, along with the ownership and acquisition of property
- The performance of household duties by both parties
- The care and support of children (in cases where children are involved)
- How other people viewed their relationship.
In discussing de facto laws NSW, there are various aspects to analyse, including property division, maintenance, superannuation of the people in a de facto relationship, and financial agreements.
De Facto Laws In NSW For Distribution of Property
In relation to the distribution of property, under the Family Law Act, all de facto couples enjoy the same rights as married couples.
Some examples of property and assets include houses and other real estates; personal and shared bank accounts; superannuation funds; investments like shares and bonds; business assets, vehicles; and debts.
In cases where de facto couples are not able to reach an agreement about how the assets should be divided, they can make an application to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court for a property settlement.
What the Family Court considers in this regard: –
- The net value of your current assets – including the value of any property like houses, shares, boats, caravans, or superannuation
- What each of the parties involved owned before the relationship
- Contributions made by each person during the course of the relationship – this can include: Indirect financial contributions (payment of household expenses, gifts, etc.); Direct financial contributions (wages, payment for properties, etc.); and Non-financial contributions (considering the welfare of the family, domestic tasks, etc.)
Before making any Property Orders, the Court must be convinced that: –
- The couple had a child together, OR
- The couple were living together for at least two years
- The applicant made significant property or domestic contributions
- The de facto relationship was registered under the law of the State
In NSW, you can register your de facto relationship on the NSW Relationship Register website.
What If The Couple Reaches an Agreement?
If couples reach an agreement without having to involve courts, it is better to ask lawyers to register the agreement formally at the Court as consent orders. This is ideal to prevent conflicts in the future.
Secondly, couples can also make binding financial agreements about how they will manage their assets together. To do this, you need to seek guidance from a lawyer who can prepare the agreement for you.
De Facto Laws In NSW Around Maintenance
In cases where a couple who were in a de facto relationship have separated, one party can be eligible to apply for maintenance. In this case, one of the partners will provide financial support, in cases where the Court grants the order.
In deciding on financial maintenance, the Court will consider certain factors like: –
- Whether the party who is paying the maintenance has the financial means to do so.
- The party who is receiving maintenance support does not have the financial means to support themselves, either because of health reasons, or because of caring for a child from the relationship, or other reasons.
Other factors that can be considered include: –
- The age of the person applying for Maintenance (applicant)
- The applicant’s income, financial resources, and property,
- The applicant’s ability to work
- If the relationship has had any impact on the applicant’s ability to earn; and
- A suitable standard of living.
Such Maintenance Orders last for a limited amount of time.
In terms of superannuation, the superannuation held by each partner can either be split by court orders, or by agreement.
For making applications for Property Distribution orders or Maintenance/Support orders, an applicant needs to be lodged no later than 24 months, i.e., two years after separation.
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
In cases of breakdown of a de facto relationship, the individual circumstances and needs will vary. For these reasons, while applying for any Orders at the Court, you need to seek guidance from a family lawyer, who is aware of all the methods in which to strengthen your case.
Our family lawyers at JB Solicitors have many years of experience under their belt which makes them efficient at dealing with every unique case.
We provide fixed-fee pricing for family law to ensure transparency from the start.
Contact JB Solicitors today to have a confidential chat about your case, and the de facto relationship laws in NSW.