Registration is not required in order for a de facto relationship to be recognized. The advantage with a registered relationship is that it dispenses with proof of the existence of the relationship.
De facto relationships are already recognized in Australia by virtue of legislation. Just like a married couple, de facto partners also have rights and responsibilities. However, not all relationships outside marriage can be considered as de facto relationships. There are specific requirements that must be met to qualify a relationship as de facto.
Persons are in a de facto relationship if they are not married to each other, are not related as family and they live together on a genuine domestic basis. A person may still be in a de facto relationship even if he has an existing marriage or de facto relationship with another person or is in a registered de facto relationship with a different partner.
There is no hard and fast rule with respect to the requirements of ‘living together’. Even partners who are living apart may still be considered to be in a de facto relationship. The following situations are still considered as ‘living together’ that qualifies a relationship to be de facto:
Regardless of the partners being apart for long periods of time the important thing is that they still have one home that they share. Those claiming to be de facto partners must not be flatmates or friends who are sharing a room.
Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria have relationship registries. However, registration is not required to be in a de facto relationship or to be recognized as a de facto partner. In fact, registration is not one of the factors that will be considered in determining whether the relationship is de facto or not. Since it is not a requirement it is up to the de facto couple if they want to register their relationship.
A de facto couple is issued a certificate once they register their relationship. This certificate is proof of a de facto relationship. If parties want access to a family court all that they have to do is present the certificate as proof of the relationship. Unless the court would require further evidence the partners will be automatically recognized to be in a de facto relationship. This will shorten the court proceedings since giving evidence about the existence of the de facto relationship is dispensed with. Another advantage is that applications of Visa are made easier for registered de facto partners who do not have to comply anymore with the one year relationship requirement.