The existence of a de facto relationship

The existence of a de facto relationship

Establishing whether a de facto relationship exists between two parties can be quite complex as a “de facto relationship” as defined by the law goes beyond a ‘romantic relationship’ or a couple sharing a place of residence.

There are a number of cases that set out the indicia or features that a Court may look to when hearing cases as to whether a de facto relationship exists.  The indicia of a de facto relationship include, but are not limited to:

  • The duration of the relationship must be at least 2 years, unless exceptional circumstances can be found;
  • Whether the relationship is registered;
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists between the parties;
  • The degree of financial dependence and financial support of one another; and
  • Public perception of the relationship.

In the case of Roy v Sturgeon[1], Powell J noted that consideration should be given to whether the parties in a relationship were “living together as husband and wife on a bona fide domestic basis.”  Accordingly, a de facto relationship may be proven in circumstances where you and your partner have been living together or apart but are in a genuine relationship with an intentional commitment to a mutually shared life.

It is important that you seek independent legal advice regarding whether you meet the criteria of a de facto relationship under the provisions of the Family Law Act and how this may affect any current or future parenting or financial matters.

[1] (1986) DF 95-0312 [75,364]