If you are part of a de facto relationship in Australia your legal responsibilities and rights are similar to those of married couples.For example, if your partner dies, you would have entitlements to a share of the estate if the death is intestate.
The Succession Act Amendment (Intestacy) 2009 NSW, which was part of a national reform package dealing with the law related to wills and the administration of estates, has been applicable since 1 March 2010. It applies to the estate of a person who dies with no will or with a will which fails to determine the disposal of the complete estate.
As the definition of “spouse” was altered to include a person who holds a “domestic partnership” at the date of death of the deceased the same rules now apply for both marriage and de facto relationships. This means a de facto relationship which has been ongoing for no less than 2 years or a birth of a child has taken place.
Another right after the death of a de facto partner is the ability to be the recipient of compensation as detailed in workers compensation law, if death occurred while the partner was undertaking the duties of an employee.
De facto couples are treated in the same way as married couples when it comes to social security rights. This means if you and your de facto partner separate and you have a child who is still dependent, you may qualify for assistance. If your partner dies and you still have dependent children, you may qualify for assistance too.
It is possible to arrange a binding agreement when in a de facto relationship which is similar to pre-nuptial agreements when two partners are married. Agreements that are legally binding are good for people who wish to have control over their assets at the commencement of a de facto relationship. It is also useful for couples who wish to detail what is to happen if the relationship ended. Binding agreements can take place for both heterosexual couples and those of the same sex.
De facto couples from the ACT, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria are able to register their de facto relationship. The registration certificate can offer proof of the duration and existence of the relationship, which means benefiting from any rights as a result. This makes it easier to prove the existence of a de facto relationship.
De facto relationship failures are not so easy when there are children to consider. Issues in relation to children, whether the parents were involved in a de facto relationship or were legally married, are handled under federal law.
The Family Law Act states that normally responsibility for children is the concern of both parents. This means it may be possible for the a child’s main carer to get from the second parent child support if a relationship fails.
This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice