De facto separation occurs when either a heterosexual couple or a same sex couple who, whilst not marrying, have lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis and now wish to separate.

A de facto partner’s ability to seek a property settlement or deal with other financial issues arsing from the breakdown of their domestic relationship will depend on whether the relationship meets certain criteria. Our experienced family lawyer team can advise you of your options and rights based on your specific circumstances.

If a de facto couple separated in or after March 2009, financial issues, including property division and spousal maintenance is treated in the same way as married couples who have separated. If separation occurred before this date, different laws apply which vary significantly depending on the State in which the couple resided.

It is also possible for couples who are planning to enter into a de facto relationship to protect their assets and determine any financial issues in advance, in the event of a separation occurring.

Our team of separation lawyers has extensive experience in issues relating to De facto relationships. Please contact us if you have any further queries.

Our Separation And Divorce Lawyers Answer Your Questions:

Q: My partner and I never got married as I didn’t want to go through the mess of dividing property if we separated. Does that mean the assets in my name are safe?

A division of assets can still occur, even in relation to a de facto relationship. Being in a de facto relationship as opposed to a marriage does not ‘protect’ ones assets. Depending on whether your relationship meets the Family Law criteria of being a de facto relationship, not only can property be divided, but spousal maintenance may also be relevant. The assets held in your name are not automatically ‘safe’ and excluded from the assets to be divided. If necessary, Court proceedings can be commenced in the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. If you separated prior to March 2009, a division of assets can still occur however, this will be dealt with under State legislation.

One method of protecting your assets or to determine any financial issues in advance in the event of a separation is to enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (a’pre nup’ for de facto couples). Please contact us to ascertain whether this is a viable option for you.

Q: Can I be married and also be in a de facto relationship with someone else?

Yes, this is possible. In fact, many people separate from their spouse, do not formally divorce and commence a de facto relationship with someone else. In some situations, a person can still be married and not separated from their spouse, but also in a de facto relationship with another person. Whether your relationship is considered to be a de facto relationship will depend on a number of circumstances, including your living arrangements, financial interdependence and the like.

De facto law has many intricacies but our de facto law family lawyers can guide you and help you get the outcomes you desire. Contact us today.