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De facto relationships decoded

De facto relationships decoded

The aftermath of a relationship breakdown is always difficult, when couples are required to divide their property and deal with the emotions mourning a relationship.  Most people are aware that married couples have rights under law upon the breakdown of their marriage, however it is also important to note that de facto relationships are also governed by Australian legislation and can also apply for property settlement to determine their financial relationship on a final basis.

What is a de facto relationship?

De Facto relationships are defined under section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). A relationship is deemed a de facto relationship if two persons (not married or related by family) live together on a “genuine domestic basis”. Whilst this definition is quite broad, it allows a Court to determine whether a couple relationship exists with reference to circumstances such as but not limited to the duration of the relationship, financial dependence or lack thereof, whether there is a sexual relationship, if the couple live together and their mutual commitment to a shared life.

Further, this concept is inclusive of same-sex couples.

How do I know if our relationship is eligible for a property settlement?

A de facto relationship is eligible for a property settlement in the following instances:

  1. Where the relationship period was at least two (2) years;
  2. Where there is a child or children of the relationship;
  3. If a party made substantial contributions (financial or non-financial) throughout the relationship and failure to make orders dividing property would be unjust for a party; or
  4. If the relationship was a registered relationship in accordance with state or territory requirements.

Do we need to formally divide our property?

There is no legal obligation for de facto or married couples to commence formal property settlement, however undertaking this settlement will ensure finality of the financial relationship between two parties and can assist in resolving property issues whilst a couple are still amicable. This finally determines ownership of property including motor vehicles, household contents, real estate, superannuation and shares. A written binding financial agreement or a legally-biding Consent Orders will document the way property is to be split between the parties.

Additionally, a time limit exists to make an application for financial orders, being two (2) years from the date of separation. If a person wishes to obtain orders outside this period, permission is then required to be sought from the Court to make orders.

Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers are able to assist in preparing the necessary documents to formalise a property settlement for de facto relationships. Contact Coutts on (02) 4647 7577 to book in an initial appointment to received tailored advice to your present circumstances.

If you have any questions or for further information Contact Coutts today.

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

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