SKNMore people drift into de-facto relationships and many do not have an understanding of where they stand legally and financially, when the relationship ends.

It is worth noting that de-facto relationships can occur between heterosexual and same sex couples.  They also exist even if one of the parties to the de-facto relationship is married to someone else or is in another de-facto relationship.

The Family Law Act states that for a de-facto relationship to exist, the parties must not be married or related to each other, and must be a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis, having regard to all the “circumstances” of the relationship.  The circumstances may include for instance, the nature and extent of a common residence, the duration of the relationship, whether a sexual relationship exists, and/or whether there is a financial interdependence between the parties.

Furthermore, a de-facto relationship is deemed to exist if the total period of the de-facto relationship is at least 2 years, or where there is a child of both parties to the relationship.  Additionally, if you do not meet the first two tests, but you are a party to a relationship where you made substantial contributions, you may also be entitled to be considered a party to a de-facto relationship.

The reason why it is important to determine whether you are in a de-facto relationship, is because a party will be able to make an application for a property settlement in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for financial orders upon the breakdown of the relationship.

A property settlement will legally finalise all financial matters between de-facto parties, including the ownership of property, repayment of loans and superannuation entitlements.   Parties may also wish to seek a property settlement where one party has performed unpaid work in a joint business venture, or made significant improvements to the other party’s property, or where they have performed unpaid care of their de-facto partner.

Nonetheless, the court will only make financial orders in respect of a property settlement if it is just and equitable to do so.

It is also worth noting that you have a two year period from the date of separation in which to apply to the court for a property settlement in respect of the breakdown of a de-facto relationship.

At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you with de-facto relationships and property settlements and any other family law matter because Helping You is Our Business.

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