Determining what qualifies as de facto in Australia is important, as it can impact your legal rights. However, it can be complex as there are differences in the Court’s approach to a de facto relationship in comparison with marriage or just a relationship. Our Family Lawyers explain why the Court considers many factors when determining whether a couple are de facto or not.

What is considered De Facto in Australia?

Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) states that two people are in a de facto relationship if they are: Firstly, not legally married to each other. Secondly, not related by family. And thirdly, live together on a genuine domestic basis.

What other factors may the Court consider?

Whilst this may seem straightforward, the Court also looks at whether two people have a relationship as a couple by considering the following:  Firstly, the duration of the relationship.Secondly, the nature and extent of their common residence.Thirdly, whether a sexual relationship exists.Fourthly, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence.Fifthly, the ownership, use and acquisition of their property.Sixthly, the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life.Seventhly, whether the relationship is or was registered under a State or Territory law.Eighthly, the care and support of children.And finally, the reputation and public aspects of the relationship. The Court will grant different weights to different factors in its determination of your relationship. For example, if you have children.

Why is it important for De Facto status to be recognised?

Understanding what is considered de facto in Australia is important, because it means your relationship is legally recognised and you can access the same rights as a married couple. Since amendments made to the Family Law Act in 2009, de facto couples have had the same rights to married couples. This also now includes same-sex couples. As a result, identical law now apply for resolving issues arising from a separation.  If you believe you may be in a de facto relationship and want to protect your assets or would like some legal advice should your relationship break down, please contact a member of our friendly family law team.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. To that end, people should not rely on this communication as legal advice. Accordingly, they should seek formal legal advice for matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' Family Law Team today.