If parties are considered to be in a ‘de facto’ relationship according to the definition in the Family Law Act 1975 then generally their property settlement is dealt with by the Family Courts under the jurisdiction of the Family Law Act 1975. The law that applies to that property settlement is almost the same as for parties who are or were married. Read more about property here.
There are some instances, for example where de facto parties have separated prior to 1 March 2009, that their property settlement may fall under the jurisdiction of the relevant state legislation as opposed to the Family Law Act.
In order to satisfy the requirements that parties are in a de facto relationship, there are a number of factors that the Court takes into consideration (see Section 4AA of the Family Law Act).
These requirements can be summarised as follows:
- The relationship (living together) was in existence for at least 2 years; and/or
- There is a child/ren of the relationship; and/or
- The parties made substantial contributions to the assets of the other.
Interestingly, you can be in a de facto relationship even if you are married to someone else. You can also be in more than one de facto relationship at a time.
We recommend that you contact us for specific advice in relation to whether you may be in a defacto relationship for the purposes of the property adjustment jurisdiction of the Family Law Act.
When it comes to property settlement, there is no difference between people in same-sex de facto relationships that meet the definition of de facto relationships under the Family Law Act and those in heterosexual relationships.