So you’ve been living part-time with your partner for a year or two now, if things go belly up do you know what will happen to your assets? Thinking positive about your relationship is the way to go but by protecting yourself now by understanding a few simple laws, you are protecting your future self and your children.
Take a read of these frequently asked questions about de facto relationships provided by the Law Society of New South Wales and relevant legislation. Note that this information should be taken as a guide only and that professional legal advice should always be engaged if you need legal assistance.
If I am sharing a house with someone, does that constitute a de facto relationship?
No. The Family Law Act 1975 defines a de facto relationship as being a relationship between two adult persons who live together as a couple and who are neither married to one another nor related by family.
Does the Family Law Act 1975 only apply to male/female relationships?
No, it also applies to same sex relationships.
There are no children of our relationship, how do I go about structuring a property settlement?
If you can reach agreement then that agreement can be incorporated into a Binding Financial Agreement.
If we can’t reach agreement, what happens then?
If you cannot reach agreement and you have exchanged financial information, then, even though you are not married, you may approach the Family Court for it to determine that division.
How long do I have in which to bring a property claim?
You have two years from date of separation.
What about if we have children born of our relationship, can I still get orders regulating issues relating to those children?
Yes. If children are under the age of 18 years the Family Law Act regulates those issues. In those circumstances and in the absence of an agreement between you and your former partner, you would apply to either the Federal Magistrates Court or the Family Court for Orders.
What does the Court take into consideration in deciding what I should receive as my share of the property settlement?
The Court will look at both the financial and non-financial contributions of yourself and your former partner. It will also look at the financial resources of both of you and where there are children under the age of 18 years the Court will take into consideration your respective contributions as homemaker or parent.
The Court will also consider your future needs including your health, your earning capacity, your responsibility to care for others, child support being paid or received and your standard of living.