Most partners in a de facto relationship have the same rights as a spouse in a marriage when the relationship breaks down
If you are in a de facto relationship that breaks down, you may be entitled to the same benefits a divorcing spouse would receive. This article will explain those entitlements.
What de facto relationships qualify for entitlements?
A de facto relationship exists when two people who are not related to each other live together on a “genuine domestic basis.” They can be of the same sex or of opposite sexes. A de facto relationship can exist even if one partner in the relationship is married to someone else.
To benefit from the law that applies in every state and territory other than Western Australia, you generally need to have been in a de facto relationship for at least two years. The relationship does not need to have lasted continuously, but each period during which the relationship existed, added together, must total two years.
The two year period does not apply if you and your partner had a child together or if you made substantial contributions to the relationship and it would be seriously unfair not to compensate you for those contributions after the relationship ends.
If your de facto relationship has come to an end and you meet the test described above, you have all the entitlements of a divorcing spouse. That means you can seek a property settlement or maintenance from a Family Law Court if you cannot arrive at an agreement concerning financial issues with your partner. You do that by filing an application for a financial order with the court. You must do so no later than two years after the date of your separation.
All property that you own, that your partner owns, or that you own jointly is included in the property pool. Bank accounts, investments, real estate, superannuation interests, and all other forms of property are subject to division.
If one partner in a de facto relationship needs income for support, the court can increase that partner’s share of the property division to help that person meet his or her needs. Alternatively, the court can order the other partner to make maintenance payments, either in a lump sum or over a period of time.