De facto relationships exist regularly in society however most people are not aware of their rights under a de facto relationship, as well as when the relationship begins and ends. Under the Family Law Act 1975, a de facto relationship exists if you and your partner have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. There are also a number of factors that set out in the legislation to help the court determine if a de facto relationship does indeed exist such as the duration of the relationship, whether a sexual relationship exists and the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life.
How long is a de facto relationship in Queensland?
There is actually no set time for a when a de facto relationship starts however in terms of a breakdown in the relationship and the subsequent asset rights, the court will typically not consider a relationship to be de facto unless the couple lives together for a minimum of 2 years. Alternatively, if there is at least 1 child of the relationship or the relationship is registered as per the rules of the State or Territory, the court will deem the relationship to be de facto. These are only the usual ways that a de facto relationship is established. The court can establish the relationship at their discretion with reference to the relevant factors outlined in section 4AA(2) of the Family Law Act.
If your de facto relationship breaks down and you wish to separate, the official act to mark the end of the relationship is to inform your ex-partner. Unlike a married relationship, there is no need to file for divorce, fill out forms or apply to the court. If practicable, both parties can choose to amicably separate and divide the assets without attending court. However, if both parties cannot agree on the terms of the separation and the division of assets, an application to the Court can be made for financial or property orders. There is a 2 year limit for parties to finalize any property or maintenance issues. De Facto relationships in Queensland will also end with the death of a partner or either party marrying. In Queensland, a registered de facto relationship does not permit either party to be married or already in a registered relationship.
If you are in, or believe you might be in a de facto relationship, you should contact your lawyer to discuss your rights and obligations under the relationship and ways to protect your assets if the relationship breaks down.