De facto rights and responsibilities

Rights & Responsibilities

Being in a de facto relationship means that you have certain legal rights and responsibilities in relation to your partner. These de facto relationship property rights can be similar to those you would have if you were married. In this article we step you through some of the rights & responsibilities you need to be aware of when you enter into a de facto relationship.

De facto relationship rights and responsibilitiesSome people don’t even realise they are in a de facto relationship. Every relationship is different and how you define your relationship as a couple will become more relevant to you if your relationship breakdowns and one party to the relationship seeks a property adjustment.

Have you ever asked yourself, “what am I entitled to in a de facto relationship?” Did you know that if your partner passed away during your de facto relationship, you maybe entitled to a share of the intestate estate under de facto relationship laws and the Succession Act.

If your partner was to pass away during the course of employment you could receive compensation under Workers Compensation Law . You could also claim financial assistance under de facto relationship laws and the Succession Act and claim social security under the Commonwealth Social Security Act. You may also have de facto relationship property rights.

If you are unaware of these things, let’s start by defining what a de facto relationship is, and try to ascertain if you are in a de facto relationship according to de facto relationship laws.

In order to work out if you and your partner are or were in a de facto relationship start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How long you’ve been together as a couple? This should include periods where you dated but did not live together.
  • Did you live together? If so did you share a home (s) and to what extent?
  • Did you have a sexual relationship?
  • How financially involved were you? Did you provide each other with financial support?
  • Did you buy property together? Did you renovate property together?
  • Were you ever committed to sharing your lives together? For example, were you engaged?
  • Have you ever had your relationship formerly recognized?
  • Did you have children together? Did you care for each other’s children?
  • How do others view your relationship? Do friends & family view you as a committed couple?

These de facto relationship laws apply to same sex relationships. De facto relationship property rights can be established between same sex or of different sex couples. A de facto relationship can be found to have existed even when one party is married to someone else or even in another de facto relationship.

If you believe you were in a de facto relationship and separation occurs, what are you entitled to from that relationship? It may come as a surprise to some but if you can prove you were in a de facto relationship, you will have similar financial rights and responsibilities to married couples including de facto relationship property rights, spousal maintenance and child support.

De facto relationship property rights“I was with my ex for 5 years, we kind of fell into living together. My ex had a child from a previous relationship & while we were together I helped support her child.

 We broke up after 5 years, we remained friends & all was good. We had kept money separate as she worked & so did I so there was never a discussion about money or anything like that when we broke up. It was amicable and we remained friends. I had two properties & she didn’t own any real estate.

 I met my now fiancé about 6 months after the break up with my ex. We dated for nearly a year & then got engaged. Within a month of getting engaged my ex had a solicitor send me a letter saying my ex was filing proceedings against me and wanted a property settlement from me resulting from the 5 year relationship we had before I got engaged. The letter went on about her de facto relationship property rights and stuff in it that I couldn't believe!

 I have also had to spend hundreds of hours trying to find evidence to disprove we were in a de facto relationship.

 It’s been over a year now & I have spent about $80K on legal fees. I nearly lost my new relationship due to the stress of it. I seriously had no idea that I could possibly owe my ex anything. Do yourself a favour & think through all of this stuff before you move in together as it could cost you a lot of money if you don’t!”

What if you make an agreement with your ex de facto partner?

Reaching an agreement with your ex de facto partner regarding what you are entitled to from the de facto relationship is the best option. This approach will save you time & money in the long run. Make sure you meet with a qualified family lawyer & take advice about your situation before you sign any agreement. You lawyer will then create the agreement in the form of consent orders which can be registered with the Family Court. Some separating couples already have a Binding Financial Agreement in place that details what each party is entitled from the de facto relationship. You can also make a Child Support Agreement including a Shared Parenting Plan.

What if you & your ex de facto partner can’t come to an agreement?

If you and your de facto partner are unable to reach an agreement, then you may apply to the court to determine a property settlement and/or spousal maintenance. Remember, nobody can guarantee you what a court will decide, they can only provide an educated opinion as each case will be decided on its individual circumstances.

Before a court can make any orders it must be satisfied that the relationship was in fact a de facto relationship in order to have jurisdiction to hear the matter. This is often a keenly contested point as the burden of proof falls to the applicant in the matter who is required to present the court with evidence of the de facto relationship.

For all States except WA, you’ll also need to prove that separation occurred after 1 March 2009 and you lived at least one-third of your de facto relationship in an Australian State other than WA.

In WA, a partner who has separated from a de facto relationship after 1 December 2002 can go to the Family Court of Western Australia to resolve family law property matters under the Family Court Act 1997.

Remember, the information contained on the site does not constitute legal advice. If you think you need legal advice you should contact an Accredited Family Law Specialist.

We have a suite of resources on the site that can help you build your knowledge about de facto relationship property rights & evidence of a de facto relationship. Scroll through the resources below or click through to the resources tab and filter based on your area of interest. If you want to access our resources you can join the site as a member or simply purchase the individual resources you require.

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    • Bronze Resource
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      Living Together Checklist

      This resource explores issues associated with living together including; marriage, children, finances & much more……....
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    • Silver Resource
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      Existence of a Relationship Checklist

      This resource details the criteria a Court would use to determine the status of a relationship in an easy to understand format……....
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      Property & Financial Matters Upon De Facto Relationship Breakdown

      This free resource provides a general outline of the relevant Family Law reforms, their genesis & much more…......
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    • Gold Resource
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      Child Support Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relations to child support including: payment procedures, calculation & much more…......
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      Consent Orders Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relation to consent orders including; parenting plans v’s consent orders & much more…......
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      De Facto Relationship Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relating to de facto relationships including; relationship criteria, BFA’s & much more…......
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      Family Violence Fact Sheet

      This resource details family violence issues including; court process, defining family violence & much more…......
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      Binding Financial Agreement Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relating to BFA's including; advantages & disadvantages, inclusions & much more……....
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      Mediation & Family Dispute Resolution Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relating to mediation & dispute resolution including; tips & strategies for mediation……....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Property Settlement Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relating to property settlement including: court process, superannuation splits & much more……....
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      Spousal Maintenance Fact Sheet

      This resource details issues relating to spousal maintenance including: calculation, time limits & payment issues……....
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    • Gold Resource
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      Draft Applicant Case Outline

      This resource sets out case strategy for an Applicant in a de facto jurisdiction matter & much more….....
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    • Silver Resource
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      Binding Child Support Agreement Template

      This resource enables parents to document child support arrangements & includes instructions for completion…......
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Pre De Facto BFA Sample Clauses Template

      This resource provides a set of sample clauses which are editable & can be attached to a pre de facto BFA……....
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    • Silver Resource
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      Financial Statement Family Law Court Template

      This resource is a financial statement & must be completed & filed with the Court in order to commence proceedings……....
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    • Gold Resource
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      Limited Child Support Agreement Template

      This resource enables parents to document child support arrangements & review them every 3 years…......
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Cohabitation Agreement Sample Clauses Template

      This resource provides a set of sample clauses which are editable & can be attached to a cohabitation agreement……....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Pre De Facto Relationship BFA Template

      This resource enables couples who are not yet living together to create their own BFA & is fully editable……....
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    • Bronze Resource
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      Schedule of Assets & Liabilities Template

      This resource provides structure for declaring all of assets & liabilities & is used during the settlement process……....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Separation Agreement Lump Sum Super Split Template

      This resource is a tool to aid in the settlement of all financial matters post separation & is fully editable…......
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Separation Agreement Percentage Super Split Sample

      This resource enables you to review a completed separation agreement with a percentage super split…….....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      Separation Agreement Percentage Super Split Template

      This resource is a tool to aid in the settlement of all financial matters post separation & is fully editable…......
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    • Gold Resource
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      Draft Respondent Case Outline

      This resource sets out issues pertinent to defending a de facto jurisdiction matter & much more……....
      Mock-Relationship-Outline-Letter
    • Gold Resource
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      Separation Agreement Sample Clauses Template

      This resource provides a set of sample clauses which are editable & can be attached to a separation agreement……....
      Mock-Relationship-Outline-Letter
    • Gold Resource
      Mock-Relationship-Outline-Letter

      Shared Parenting Plan Agreement Template

      This resource enables parents to clearly document parenting arrangements & provides a structure for discussions…….....
      Mock-Relationship-Outline-Letter
    • Bronze Resource
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      Superannuation Information Kit Family Court Template

      This resource provides you with a template to detail all of your superannuation entitlements & is used during separation……....
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    • Bronze Resource
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      Will & Testament Template

      This resource provides you with an editable template to create & manage your Will easily & cost effectively…….....
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    • Bronze Resource
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      Will Notes To Executor Template

      This resource provides you with an editable template to create executor notes & manage all Will reviews…….....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      De Facto BFA Template

      This resource enables couples who are living together to enter into a Binding Financial Agreement & is fully editable……....
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    • Gold Resource
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      Pre De Facto Relationship BFA User Guide

      This resource sets out how to complete the Pre De Facto Binding Financial Agreement Template…......
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    • Silver Resource
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      De Facto BFA User Guide

      This resource sets out how to complete the De Facto Binding Financial Agreement Template…......
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    • Gold Resource
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      Pre De Facto BFA Sample

      This resource provides you with a completed sample Pre De Facto Binding Financial Agreement and can be used as a guide……....
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    • Gold Resource
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      De Facto BFA Sample

      This resource provides you with a completed sample Binding Financial Agreement and can be used as a guide……....
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    • Platinum Resource
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      How To Make A Living Together Agreement

      This resource explains why having a living together agreement protects you & your partner in the event of a breakup & much more….......
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    • Bronze Resource
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      Will & Testament User Guide

      This resource sets out how to complete the Will & Testament template. Always update you Will after a relationship breakdown………....
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    • Silver Resource
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      Draft Applicant Relationship Letter

      This resource sets out the Applicant’s approach in a de facto jurisdiction matter. It highlights the strategy used & much more…......
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    • Bronze Resource
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      Budget Worksheet

      This resource helps identify costs associated with living together as a couple & provides a fully editable budget….......
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    • Silver Resource
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      Draft List Of Discovery Documents

      This resource details a draft list of discovery documents requested by an Applicant in a de facto jurisdiction matter…......
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    • Silver Resource
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      Response to Draft Relationship Outline Letter

      This resource sets out the Respondent’s approach in a de facto jurisdiction matter. It highlights the strategy used & much more…......
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    • Gold Resource
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      Draft Applicant Response to Witness Affidavit

      This resource highlights the process involved in responding to a witness affidavit & includes tips for responding effectively…......
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