Beware the Financial implications of De Facto Relationships

2-November-2019 Family Law By Simone Green

The phrase de facto relationship is a term often used loosely in society to refer to a couple living together in a romantic relationship. The term ‘de facto’ however has a legal meaning, and with that come certain rights and obligations which may in fact never have been intended by the couple.

When separation of a de facto relationship occurs, it is critical that you obtain advice from a family law expert on the financial implications for your relationship before it is too late; or even better, protect yourself and your assets before you enter one.

– Streeterlaw’s Simone Green, Accredited Specialist in Family Law

It is not always as obvious to classify a de facto relationship as a married relationship. Did you know that the Court applies a list of criteria to determine if a de facto relationship exists? If a de facto relationship did exist, the Court then has the jurisdiction to alter the property interests between the couple on separation of the de facto relationship just as it does for married couples.

Not sure how the law defines a de facto relationship? See our article on what is a de facto relationship.

If a ‘de facto relationship’ is under 2 years duration, the Court can still consider an application for the adjustment of property in circumstances where there are children of the relationship OR if a person claims to have made substantial contributions (financial or non-financial) to the other partner’s assets and whether failure to make a declaration acknowledging the existence of a de facto relationship would cause the applicant a serious injustice.

The case of Beaumont & Schultes [2019] FCCA 1831 (17 July 2019) looked at such an issue where the length of the ‘de facto’ relationship was under 2 years. The woman sought a declaration that she was in a de facto relationship in circumstances where she had lived with her partner in his home and provided her assistance with renovations of the property owned by him. In that case there were no children of the relationship, each had independent incomes, but she sought a share of the partner’s assets on the basis that she had provided her own unpaid labour to the home renovations. While it was acknowledged that such labour was provided, it was not found that these non-financial contributions were of a special or extraordinary nature to render a substantial contribution and as she had her own means of income and assets, it would not cause a serious injustice within the meaning of the legislation and so her Application failed.

If you are in a de facto relationship, or think you may be, speak to our Family Law experts about your options for protecting your financial interests today on 02 8197 0105.

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