De Facto Relationships

Since the amendments to the Family Law Act took effect, defacto couples in Queensland now have easier access to the Courts to settle their disputes at the end of their relationship.

Who is a defacto spouse?

The Act describes a defacto spouse as “one or two persons, whether the same or the opposite sex who have lived together as a couple”. Two persons are a couple if they have lived together on a genuine domestic basis, in a relationship based on intimacy, trust and personal commitment to each other. Therefore, two people living together merely as flat mates cannot be considered as living in a defacto relationship.

What happens to property on separation?

Upon separation, a defacto spouse can apply to state Court to make a property adjustment if one of the following three matters can be proven:-

  • The defacto spouses have lived together in a defacto relationship for at least two (2) years; or
  • There is a child of the defacto spouses who is under the age of eighteen (18) years of age; or
  • Where serious injustice will result from failure to recognise a defacto spouses financial or non-financial contribution.

Application to the Court for a property adjustment must be made within two (2) years of end of the relationship unless the Court gives permission to apply after that time.

Children of the Defacto Relationship

All disputes relating to children of a defacto relationship can be dealt with by the Family Court of Australia (see custody/access to children). The same rules relating to children born in marriage, apply to children born out of marriage.