Significant changes have been made to the law which impact the way de facto relationships are treated under the law. Previously when de facto couples with children separated they had to commence proceedings in two separate Court systems. Property disputes were dealt with under State Legislation and State Courts and parenting disputes went to the Federal Jurisdiction of the Family Court.

Under the current law, which came into effect in March 2009, de facto couples who separate may now have both parenting and property issues resolved by the Family Court system. These disputes are dealt with in a similar way to disputes between people who are married.

There have also been very significant changes to the law which will materially affect the outcome of a separation.

In order for disputes between de facto couples to be dealt with under the Family Law Act it must be shown that a couple meet the definition of a ‘de facto couple’. Many factors are taken into consideration such as:

  • the length of the relationship;
  • whether the parties had joint finances;
  • whether there are children of the relationship;
  • the intention of the parties;
  • and many other factors.

It is recommended that individuals who have a dispute and are in a de facto relationship obtain legal advice so as to determine their rights and the legal options available to them.

We encourage you to contact our Family Law Accredited Specialist, Riccarda Stock, and her team to discuss this complex area of law.