Since June 1999 the term De Facto has been used to describe the relationship between the two adults (over the age of 18 and including couples of the same sex) who:
1. live together; and
2. are not married; and
3. are not siblings, parent or child of the other party.
The Family Law Act defines De Facto relation as one where the couple is not married and are not related to each other and they are in a relationship and living together. A general requirement for De Facto couples is that they have been living together for a period of at least 2 years or they have a child together.
Other criterias to determine a De Facto relationship include:
1. how long the relationship has lasted;
2. whether the parties live together under one roof;
3. what the arrangements are between them in respect of their assets and finances;
4. whether they have come to own assets together since the commencement of their relationship, etc
Previously De Facto couples were not governed by the federal laws except when there were matters in respect of children. All other matters were governed by state and territory laws.
However, recent changes on 1 March 2009 allows De Facto couples to make applications to the Family Courts for orders in respect of division of property and maintenance for couples in a De Facto relationship. De Factor partners have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to their former De Facto partner if they are unable to maintain themselves and meet their own reasonable expenses from their income. The amount of support depends on the needs of the applicant partner and what the respondent partner can afford to pay.
The amount of non-financial contribution by either party will also be taken into account when considering the division of property.
An application for maintenance will have to be made within 2 years of the breakdown of the De Facto relationship.
Parties can choose not to be governed by the new laws by entering into an agreement which outline the distribution of property division and outline maintenance provisions if a relationship ends. These types of Agreements are called Binding Financial Agreements and can be entered into when both parties have obtained independent legal advice.
At LAC Lawyers we are available to assist you in the event of a breakup of your relationship with your partner and provide you with sound legal advice in respect of your rights and entitlement.