Many people ask the question ‘how long do you have to be living together to be in a de facto relationship?’
Pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) two people are in a de facto relationship if:
You don’t need to be living with someone for a set time period to be in a de facto relationship. In fact, couples can be considered to be in a de facto relationship even if they don’t live together all of the time, or if they haven’t lived in the same house for a significant period of time.
When you think about it, there are many reasons why unmarried couples don’t live together. This may be because of work arrangements in different geographical locations, couples preferring to keep their own residences once they are in a relationship, or due to religious reasons.
So, you’re not married and you think your relationship is genuine. But how do you know if you’re in a de facto relationship?
When working out whether a couple is in a de facto relationship, the Court may consider the following factors:
Importantly, not all of these factors need to be met for the Court to consider that a couple is in a de facto relationship. De facto relationships come in many shapes and sizes. The more of these factors that apply to your relationship, to more likely that the answer to ‘I am in a de facto relationship?’ is ‘yes’.
You must meet certain thresholds before you can apply for a de facto property settlement or spouse maintenance order.
The Court can only make an order for a de facto property settlement if the Court is satisfied that:
As you can see, there is no set criteria setting out what constitutes a de facto relationship. Every relationship is different.
If you are in a de facto relationship and want to protect your property interests in the event the relationship ends, it may be worth considering entering into a Binding Financial Agreement. Binding Financial Agreements are commonly referred to as ‘pre-nuptial agreements’ or ‘pre nups’. De facto partners can enter into this type of Agreement.
It’s particularly important to consider entering into a Binding Financial Agreement with your de facto spouse if:
You must see a lawyer if you want to entering into a Binding Financial Agreement.
As you can see, there is no set criteria for a relationship to be considered a de facto relationship. Every relationship and each person’s experience is different.
If you think you are in a de facto relationship, or you have just separated from a de facto partner, it’s important to seek specialist family law advice as early as possible.
If you would like to speak to a Wollongong Family Lawyer or Shoalhaven Family Lawyer about your family law issues, please contact us to arrange an obligation-free initial consultation in-person, by telephone, or online via zoom.