Family Law
De Facto

When is My Relationship Considered ‘De Facto’?

De facto relationships are becoming increasingly common in the modern world as less and less people marry at an early age. Instead, people often decide to live together without getting married, which leads to them being considered a ‘de facto’ couple under the eyes of the law at some point.

Now, there are important legal considerations that you need to be aware of once you are considered to be in a de facto relationship. The best way to understand these is to speak with your local family lawyer, but we’ve done our best to provide a brief overview below.

What is a de facto relationship?

The exact definition of a de facto relationship does differ by state in Australia, but basically it involves a serious relationship between two people who aren’t married, but who live together as if they are. There are a lot of things to think about when working out if you’re in a de facto relationship or not, including:

  • How long you’ve been together.
  • How long you’ve been living together. Usually you need to be living together at least part of the time to be considered de facto.
  • Whether there’s a sexual relationship and whether you have children together.
  • Whether you share joint bank accounts or own major joint assets.
  • Whether you act as if you’re married or in a serious relationship when you’re in public.

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that contribute to help the law identify if you’re in a de facto relationship or not. If it’s particularly important for you to know then consider speaking to your local family lawyer.

What are the implications of being in a de facto relationship?

As you’ve probably already worked out, being in a de facto relationship comes with a range of legal implications. Since you’re effectively ‘married’ in the eyes of the law, you will be treated as such if you separate, if you take child custody battles to the court, or if you have problems with any other aspect of your relationship.

Some of the major legal implications of being in a de facto relationship include:

  • Divorce style laws apply if you and your partner separate. These relate to property settlement, spousal maintenance, child maintenance and more.
  • Your government welfare payments may be affected if your in a de facto relationship.
  • If your partner dies, you will have the same rights as someone in a married relationship. These relate to property, wills, life insurance and workers compensation.

As you can see, being in a de facto relationship is very different from simply being ‘together’ with someone, and should be treated seriously.

Final Word

If you want more advice about the implications of being in a de facto relationship then you should speak to your local family lawyer. They will be able to first analyse your situation to determine whether or not you actually are in a de facto relationship. If you are, they will be able to provide you legal advice based on your exact circumstances.