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De facto relationships

Learn about what counts as a de facto relationship and important time frames to be aware of when separating.

Making parenting arrangements

Parents in de facto relationships have the same rights as married couples to make parenting arrangements.

Dividing money and property

Couples in de facto relationships have the same money and property rights as married couples. In Western Australia, de facto property rights are dealt with under Western Australian law - see more information below.

Read the Australian Government's FAQs on de facto relationships and money and property to learn more.

Important Family Court time limits to know about if you are a separated de facto couple

If you can’t agree between yourselves on how to divide your money and property, and you think you will need to apply to the Family Courts for money and property orders, there is an important time limit you should know about.

De facto couples have 2 years from the end of their relationship to apply to the Family Courts for money and property orders. If you do not apply within 2 years you must get permission from the court to make an application. Permission is only granted in limited circumstances.

How to work out if your relationship is recognised as a de facto relationship under Australian family law

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

  • You lived together as a couple for 2 years (or periods totalling 2 years)
  • You have a child in the relationship
  • 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.
  • You lived in Australia for at least part of your relationship, or live here now.

Working out if you lived together ‘as a couple’

The kinds of things 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 2 people lived together as a couple; each of them can be considered and an overall assessment made.

Registered relationships

Registering a relationship is different from marriage. Many states and territories in Australia legally recogise domestic relationships by registering the relationship, regardless of the couple’s sex or gender identity.

If you would like to know more about registration of relationships, contact the free Legal Help Line in your state or territory.

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