Family law de facto property settlement in Australia


In Australia, some laws protect the interests in a de facto relationship where two adults live together as married couples on a genuine domestic basis without being married. It could be relationships between people of opposite sex or same-sex.

However, when the two people involved in a de facto relationship decide to part ways, or there is a dispute, they need to approach family law specialists to find the best route with minimal conflict. It is especially true if there are assets and properties involved.

The court looks at various angles to decide the legal recourse. Things like the duration of the relationship or whether the partners shared finances are looked into. The other aspects considered are:

  • If either of the partners is financially dependent on the other or not.
  • Whether there are offsprings of the relationship or not.
  • How others around perceived your relationship, and more.

Family law de facto property settlement in Australia

It can so happen that one of the partners would make a claim on the properties that were a part of the relationship that were bought during the relationship. They can also make a claim to the partner’s properties even though these were acquired before the relationship.

De facto property entitlements

A family matter lawyer will brief you about your property entitlements in a de facto relationship when it ends. One of the partners in the relationship can make property claims as per the Australian Family Law Act.

The Australian Family Law mentions specific do’s and don’ts in this context. For example, to make such a claim, the partners must have:

  • Lived together for at least two years on a genuine domestic basis. Or,
  • Had kids together.

The court might consider other factors like:

  • What is the contribution of each partner, primarily financial, towards the relationship’s finances and assets?
  • Whether you or your partner had given up their job or earning opportunities to look after the kids or any such grave injustice where one of the partners was at a financial disadvantage.
  • The registration of the relationship.
  • You and your partner have agreed to a property settlement and have requested the Family Court to pass consent orders accordingly.

The settlement of de facto properties then follows the general rules under the Australian Family Law if the above criteria are met.

What properties can be a part of the Family law de facto property settlement?

  • Real estate properties – residential and commercial.
  • Bank accounts
  • Business assets
  • Shares, mutual funds, debentures, and other investments.
  • Superannuation
  • Debts
  • Personal properties, including automobiles, jewellery, etc.

Important things to remember for de facto settlements

The following are the most important aspects of making valid claims and for the court to hear your claims and pass any orders.

  • Your relationship should be registered.
  • Your relationship cannot be a short-term de facto relationship where the partners have lived together for less than two years on a genuine domestic basis.
  • If there are no children with the ex-partner

The only consideration in such relationships (short-term) is that the court will hear a claim if any of the partners have made a significant contribution, financial or non-financial, to the relationship. However, the matters can be complicated, and it is best to take legal advice at the earliest possible.