Since the beginning of March 2009 couples who are in de facto relationships have been included in the Family Law Act for those states which agreed to follow the federal legislation.
The one fact that is not the same throughout is that de facto couples who do not reside in Australia the Family Law Act does not cover them as it can only be used within Australia.
If the de facto couple leaves a particular state in Australia and moves to another state or territory, the state is not taken with them, so the Family Law Act does not necessarily apply. It will certain not apply if the couple moves overseas.
The de facto relationship will come under the laws of the country that the couple choose to use as their country of residence at the time. This is not quite the same as marriage, which is recognised legally internationally, outside of the country where the marriage took place. A de facto couple now includes same-sex partners in all states under Commonwealth law.
Because of these federal changes, if a de facto relationship breaks down it might be treated differently depending on the year of termination of the relationship and the state concerned.
In New South Wales it is referred to as a "Domestic relationship," which includes de facto relationships. If the separation date came after 1 March 2009, the Family Law Act is used but before the beginning of March 2009, the Property (Relationships) Act of 1984 is used. In Victoria, the same applies, but a separation before 2009 is covered by the Relationship Act 2008.
In Queensland, if the separation date occurred after the beginning of March 2009, the Family Law Act is followed and prior to the beginning of March 2009, the Property Law Act 1974 is used. In South Australia, the Family Law Act has been used since the beginning of July 2010 and the Domestic Partners Property Act of 1996 for separations prior to that date. Tasmania follows the Family Law Act 1975 for separations that took place after the beginning of March 2009 and before this date, the Relationships Act of 2003 is followed.
In Western Australia, de facto relationships are covered by Part 5A of the Family Court Act. 1997. For the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) after the beginning of March 2009, the Family Law Act is used and prior to the beginning of March 2009, the Domestic Relationships Act of 1994 is used. For the Northern Territory, if the separation date occurred after the beginning of March 2009, the Family Law Act is used and before 1 March 2009, the De Facto Relationships Act of 1991.