Practice Area Overview:

De Facto Separation

One of the difficulties in defining a de facto relationship is that every de facto relationship, like every married relationship, is very different.

A person is considered to legally be in a de facto relationship with another person if:

  • The persons are not legally married to each other; and
  • The persons are not related by family; and
  • They have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

Usually, you will need to demonstrate that you have lived together for at least two years. This may be overlooked if there is a child of the relationship, or if there are other exceptional circumstances.

A de facto relationship can exist between two persons of the same or different sexes. It can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else. People who are involved in a relationship and live together without being married are in a de facto relationship, whether or not assets are shared.

When assessing the existence of a de facto relationship the court will look at:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The nature and extent of their common residence
  • Whether property is owned together
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • Whether there are shared finances
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists
  • The shared care and support of children
  • Whether the relationship is registered under any State or Territory law
  • How the relationship is presented in public

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