Media, friends and family tend to get confused when discussing what constitutes a “de facto” relationship. This issue was dealt with in a recent case of Jonah & White  FamCA 221. This was a case where the applicant sought a declaration that she had been in a “de facto relationship” with the respondent.
The parties had been in a relationship for a period of 17 years however the Respondent had been married to a different woman for the entire duration of the relationship. The Respondent also had children to the woman he was married to. The parties lived separately, did not share any property and did not pool their resources. The applicant would see the Respondent every two (2) to three (3) weeks for a couple of days.
Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 (hereinafter “the Act”) provides us with a “meaning” of the term “de facto relationship”.
This section of the Act says that a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:
The section goes on to provide “circumstances” that assist the Court when working out if you are in a de facto relationship and include any or all of the following:
No particular finding in relation to any circumstances above is to be regarded as necessary in deciding whether the parties were in a de facto relationship.
The section also goes on to say that a de facto relationship can exist between two (2) persons of different sexes and between two (2) persons of the same sex. It is also important to realise that a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship.
After looking at all of the evidence in the above mentioned case the Court decided that “in all of the circumstances they were not persuaded that the relationship between the parties was a de facto relationship as defined in the Act”. The Application was dismissed.