Our Legal Services

Family Law

De Facto Relationships

We understand the implications around de facto relationships and carefully advise you on everything from assets to property settlement.

Lawyers who regularly practise in the area of family law acknowledge that close personal relationships don’t just involve married couples. In today’s society, families take many forms, and can be founded on relationships between married, non married, de facto, and same sex couples. If you would like more information on how the law differentiates between de-facto relationships and marriage, click here.

It is critical to be properly informed about the legal implications of any non married close personal relationship in which you may be involved. We can advise those in de facto relationships within one of our many office locations: Sydney, Parramatta, Canberra, the Northern Beaches, Central Coast or Norwest, or anywhere else in Australia via our contact page, on their legal rights and responsibilities as a couple.

In the past, what constitutes a de facto relationship, and the legal implications which arose as a result of being involved in de facto, were widely defined and varied between states and territories. However, most definitions include that a de facto relationship is a relationship between:

  • two adults (over the age of 18 years);
  • who are not legally married to each other; and
  • are not related by family; and
  • having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

The law that currently applies to de facto relationships has largely rectified these past inconsistencies in the law. Under the current law, certain persons leaving an unsuccessful de facto relationship can pursue property settlements in much the same way as married couples who have separated, relying on the same law and using the same court systems (excluding Western Australia). This includes same sex de facto couples.

Current law does allow de facto couples to reach agreement about property and financial issues upon relationship breakdown, and our lawyers can advise upon options for recording agreements in legally binding documents.

For those who wish to keep control of their assets when entering into a de facto relationship, binding financial agreements can also be prepared either at the commencement of the relationship, or during the relationship or after separation, which stipulate what and how property is to be divided. These agreements are similar to “Pre-Nup” agreements, and are available to heterosexual and same sex de facto partners. Click here to find out more about binding financial agreements. 

The legal implications of de facto relationships, including those involving children, can be significant and at times quite unexpected. For more information and legal advice, contact us to make an appointment with a family lawyer to discuss your situation.