A de facto relationship is defined by the Property (Relationships) Act 1984 (NSW) as a relationship between two persons:

  1. Who live together as a couple, and
  2. Who are not married to one another or related by family.

In determining whether two persons are in a de facto relationship, all the circumstances of the relationship are to be taken into account, including:

  • the duration of the relationship
  • the nature and extent of common residence
  • whether or not a sexual relationship exists
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of property
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • the care and support of children
  • the performance of household duties
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship

On 1 March 2009, the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Maters and Other Measures) Act 2008 commenced.

The effect of this amendment was that all matters relating to financial de facto disputes were dealt with under legislation which was drafted in line with the current legislation for married couples.

These proceedings in NSW are now commenced in the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia rather than the state Courts such as the District Court of NSW and Supreme Court of NSW.

Your matter may still be required to be dealt with under the ‘old system’ if your relationship ended prior to 1 March 2009. However, if you separated prior to 1 March 2009 you are able to opt-in to the ‘new system’ if both parties consent.

Please make an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors to discuss your de facto legal problems.

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