What is a de-facto relationship in Australia?

Dec 10, 2023

Understanding De-facto Relationships in Australia

In Australia, a de-facto relationship is defined by the Family Law Act 1975 as a relationship between two adults who live together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis but are not married to each other or related by family. This definition applies irrespective of the gender of the individuals in the relationship.

Legal Recognition of De-facto Relationships

De-facto relationships are legally recognized in Australia. The Family Law Act 1975 provides de-facto couples with the same rights and obligations as married couples. This includes matters related to property settlements and spousal maintenance.

However, to be considered a de-facto relationship under the law, certain conditions must be met. For instance, the relationship must have lasted for at least two years, or there must be a child from the relationship, or significant contributions have been made to the relationship.

legal recognition

Benefits of De-facto Relationship Status

The legal recognition of de-facto relationships offers several benefits. For instance, in the event of a relationship breakdown, the Family Law Act provides mechanisms for the division of property and financial resources. Additionally, de-facto partners have the right to negotiate and enter into binding financial agreements, similar to pre-nuptial agreements in marriages.

relationship benefits

Proving a De-facto Relationship

Proving a de-facto relationship can sometimes be complex. The court considers various factors to determine whether a relationship is de-facto. These include the duration of the relationship, the nature and extent of a common residence, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and the ownership, use, and acquisition of property.

Other aspects that might be considered include the care and support of children, the reputation, and public aspects of the relationship. No single factor is determinative; the court considers the circumstances of each case individually.

proving relationship

De-facto Relationships and Migration

A de-facto relationship can also be relevant for migration purposes. The Department of Home Affairs recognizes de-facto relationships for the purposes of many visa applications. However, strict criteria must be met, including providing evidence of a genuine and continuing relationship.

In conclusion, understanding the concept of a de-facto relationship and its legal implications in Australia can be essential for couples who cohabit. It can significantly impact various aspects of their lives, including property rights, financial agreements, and visa applications.