I’ve separated from a de facto relationship – what are my rights?

Ending a relationship is a difficult time in anyone’s life, whether you are married or in a de facto relationship.

A de facto relationship involves two people (including same-sex) who aren’t married but have lived together as a couple for at least two years without separation.

In order to be in a de facto relationship, there must be evidence of a ‘genuine domestic relationship’. Some factors that indicate this exists are the degree of financial dependency, whether a sexual relationship exists, the degree of commitment to sharing your lives, ownership of your property and caring for children if any exist.

Once these factors are determined, the court can make orders regarding the division of property and assets.

De facto couples are granted many of the same legal rights as married couples. Under the Family Law Act 1975, de facto couples are entitled to make prenuptial agreements about their property. De facto couples are also able to apply to the court for property settlement, however the application must be made within two years of the date of separation.

You also have the right to apply for spousal maintenance from your de facto partner if you feel you cannot adequately support yourself. The outcome will also depend on your partner’s ability to provide financial support, your age and your ability to work.

If you are ending a de facto relationship, it is always beneficial to seek legal aid, particularly if children and joint property or assets are involved.

To end a de facto relationship, you do not have to un-register your relationship or receive a separation certificate, there must simply be an intention to separate communicated to the other party. Similar to married couples, this can then be actioned by one party moving out, or remaining separated under the same roof.

It is not uncommon for arguments or disagreements to arise during the separation process. If you and your partner are struggling to come to terms with your de facto separation, it can be helpful to seek legal assistance.

No Lawyers’ Family Legal Resources aim to guide you through the process of ending your de facto relationship and provide tips on how to transition to the next chapter of your life.

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