De Facto Couples

Making parenting arrangements

De facto parents have the same rights as married couples to make parenting arrangements.

Dividing money and property

If separating de facto couples cannot agree on the division of money and property, they have 2 years, from the end of the relationship, to apply to the family courts for a property settlement. This includes opposite sex and same sex de facto couples. If they do not apply within 2 years, they must get permission from the court to make an application. Permission is only granted in limited circumstances.

Find out more about de facto property

Is my relationship recognised as a de facto relationship?

Your relationship will be legally recognised as a de facto relationship where:

  • you lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis, for 2 years (or periods totalling 2 years), or
  • there is a child of the relationship, or
  • one of you has made a substantial financial or non-financial contribution to property as a homemaker or parent and serious injustice would result if the court did not recognise the relationship, or
  • the relationship has been registered

You also need to have lived in Australia for at least part of your relationship, or live here now.

Recognition of de facto relationships is different in Western Australia.

Working out if you lived together ‘as a couple'

The kinds of factors that indicate whether 2 people lived together as a couple include:

  • the duration of the relationship
  • the nature and extent of their common residence
  • whether a sexual relationship exists
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence and any arrangements for financial support between them
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of any property
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • whether the relationship has been registered
  • the care and support of children
  • the performance of household duties, and
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship

None of these factors individually will determine whether the 2 people lived together as a couple; each of them can be considered and an overall assessment made.

Registration of relationships

Registration is different from marriage. Many states and territories in Australia provide for the legal recognition of domestic relationships, by registration of the relationship, irrespective of the couple's sex or gender identity.

If you would like to know more about registration of relationships in your state or territory, seek legal help.

De facto couples in Western Australia

In Western Australia a relationship (including a same sex relationship) will be recognised a de facto relationship where:

  • 2 persons lived together for at least 2 years in a marriage-like relationship, or
  • if you lived together for less than 2 years:
  • there is a child of the relationship under the age of 18 years and failure to make orders would result in serious injustice to the party who is caring for or responsible for the child, or
  • one party made a substantial financial, non-financial or homemaker / parent contribution while residing in Western Australia and failing to make orders would result in serious injustice.

There are also some residency requirements.

The following factors are indicators of whether or not a de facto relationship existed but are not essential –

  • the length of the relationship between them
  • whether they have resided together
  • the nature and extent of common residence
  • whether there is, or has been, a sexual relationship between them
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of their property (including property they own individually)
  • the degree of mutual commitment by them to a shared life
  • whether they care for and support children
  • the reputation, and public aspects, of the relationship between them

If de facto couples in Western Australia cannot agree on dividing their money and property, disputes between them are dealt with under Western Australian law.