Areas of LAW


De Facto relationships are quite different to a marriage, however are legally recognised. New South Wales legislation grants limited maintenance rights on the breakdown of a de facto relationship of at least two years duration.

The term ‘de facto’ also applies to a “close personal relationship” between two adults, regardless of whether they are related, who are living together, where one provides the other with domestic assistance or personal care (without fee or reward). As these relationships can be determined as ‘de facto’, it is vital to speak with a family lawyer prior to moving forward.

To determine whether a relationship is truly de facto, a court will look at a number of facts listed in the NSW legislation. These include the duration of the relationship, financial dependence, ownership, and use of property, children, the existence of a common residence, mutual support, and public recognition of the relationship.

The Family Court determines issues relating to the children of a de facto relationship. The District Court or Supreme Court determines issues relating to the property of the partners in a de facto relationship in a separation. Those property matters are determined in Court in accordance with the provisions of the Property (Relationships) Act 1984.

The Property (Relationship) Act 1984 provides for parties in a de facto relationship to enter into an agreement setting out what will occur in the event of a breakdown. Careful consideration is to be had to the terms of any agreement, not only in what is in the agreement, but what is omitted from the agreement. There are many issues that need to be carefully considered.

The Australian Legal Practice Family Lawyers can inform you whether you are eligible to receive support, and can assist with property and children’s matters as a de facto partner.