The uncertainty of de facto rights in Australia can, unfortunately, leave unmarried couples quite uncertain as to what rights and legal entitlements they would have if they were to get separated. In today’s society, far fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates have only increased, so it is understandable that some people may delay tying the knot. However, what does this mean about your de facto rights and legal entitlements?
The following article will briefly summarise all the legalities and rights you are entitled to as a de facto couple in Australia.
What Is A De Facto Relationship?
According to the Family Law Act 1975, a de facto relationship is defined as a couple living together in a genuine domestic situation who are not married or related. This definition is quite broad, so If matters involving de facto relationships were to proceed to Court – whether a de facto relationship is established in the eyes of the law will need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.
In making its decision, the Court will consider factors such as:
- whether the relationship is sexual
- The extent to which the couple combines their finances
- The length of the relationship, including any separation periods of separation
Typically, a connection must be at least two years for a relationship to be considered a de facto and for de facto relationship entitlements to arise. However, there can be exceptions to this rule, such as where the couple has children together or where one partner has made significant financial contributions to the couple’s property.
De Facto Rights Concerning Children
Children of de facto relationships are protected under the Family Law Act 1975. This is because the minimum two year period of a relationship or registration is not required if the de facto couple have a child together. Accordingly, the Court will consider de facto partners as responsible for all of the parental duties of their children, irrespective of any new partnerships or separation.
De Facto Rights Compared To Marital Rights
Contrary to popular belief, de facto rights are pretty similar to martial rights under the law. Despite not having to register a de facto relationship, the rights and entitlements of de facto relationships are almost identical to that of a marriage once it is registered. The only fundamental difference between the two is the added challenge of proving the existence of the de facto relationships due to a lack of legal documents, such as the case in a marriage. Registering a de facto relationship, however, will help in proving the existence of the relationship. Accordingly, if your de facto relationship was to break down and the division of property and assets was a matter pursued in Court, it would be decided in much the same way as a marriage.
De Facto Rights Concerning Property
Property & Assets include:
- Bank accounts
- Homes & Real estate
- Personal property
- Investments such as shares and bonds
- Business assets
- Superannuation funds
Claims regarding the property are usually more limited and necessitate either living together on a genuine domestic basis for two years or having a child together.
However, the Court may consider some other issues in determining your de facto relationship entitlements regarding property division.
These other considerations include:
- Whether the relationship is registered
- If a significant injustice will result if one of you is at a substantial financial disadvantage (mainly when one of you stops working to look after the home and children)
- Suppose one of you made a significant contribution to the relationship’s finances or assets. This includes payments on the home, contributing to the bills, any renovations or work you may have put into the house to increase the value of the property etc.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing matters such as de facto rights in Australia, it is vital that you get in contact with an experienced family lawyer to discuss your particular circumstances if you are unsure of your legal entitlements.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way. With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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