Misconceptions are rife when it comes to de facto relationships. Many people believe that after six months of living together, your partner can take half of your belongings. Could that possibly be true?
The Family Court will not consider a de facto case unless the couple has lived together for a minimum of two years, as they have no jurisdiction to make assets and liabilities orders on relationships that fall short of twenty-four months.
However, exceptions to the rule apply in order to prevent serious injustices to de facto partners who hold no assets. One such exception would apply if one of the partners significantly contributed to the other partner's assets during the cohabitations period, or of a child is born out of the relationship. It is unclear what exactly constitutes a significant contribution, but that is why it is important to speak to your solicitor to determine whether your contribution was substantial.
If you have lived with someone for more than two years, what are your partner's entitlements? The same principles apply to married and de facto couples in the eyes of the Family Court, with superannuation being the only exception.
As a general rule, parties in a de facto relationship for five years or less will receive whatever they have contributed financially to the couple's assets, as well as a percentage of any growth in value of the assets.
Non-financial contributions increase in relevance in long-term de facto relationships. Parties' contributions are more likely to be viewed as equal in long-term relationships, and this will usually be reflected in what each party is awarded.
It is, however, important to remember that these presumptions may be rebuttable on the merits of the circumstances and facts of each unique case. Each unique case will present different facts, which will alter each party's awards. For a more accurate estimation of what you are potentially entitled to, speak to your family lawyer