The Family Law Act contains provisions which set out the requirements for a de facto relationship by law. De facto relationship laws in NSW cover a range of family law issues including the division of property, maintenance, financial agreements, and the superannuation of individuals in these relationships. The provisions of the Family Law Act apply to both heterosexual and LGBTQI relationships. Also, The Child Support (Assessment) Act applies to same-sex couples.

Who is in a de facto relationship?

You can apply for a de facto property settlement in the Family Court if any of the following applies:

  1. That the period, or the total of the periods, of the de facto relationship is at least 2 years; or
  2. That there is a child of the de facto relationship; or
  3. That:
    • If one party has made significant contributions; and
    • A failure to make the order would result in serious injustice to applicant party; or
  1. The relationship was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory.

What is a de facto relationship?

If a dispute arises about whether a two people are in a de facto relationship, the court will make the decision based on several factors including:

  • How long the relationship has lasted;
  • Your living arrangements;
  • Whether a sexual relationship existed or exists;
  • The arrangement of the finances;
  • Whether you owned property together;
  • How you purchased any property you owned jointly;
  • Whether you registered your relationship under state or territory law;
  • Whether you have children together; and/or
  • How your relationship was presented in public.

Often, couples can reach an agreement on their own about property division without seeking the advice of family law lawyers. However, even if you do reach an agreement – and especially if you don't – it's a smart idea to talk to a family lawyer to guide you in the right direction when it comes to protecting your legal rights.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.