A de facto relationship is a relationship where two people having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship are living together on a genuine domestic basis. A de facto relationship can be between people of the same gender or different genders. Under the Family Law Act applications may be made to a Court for maintenance and property adjustment within 2 years following the end of a de facto relationship. An application for leave to institute proceedings out of time is possible if the Court is satisfied that hardship would be caused to a child or a party if that leave was not granted.
A Court will only make orders arising out of a de facto relationship if the Court is satisfied that the period or the total of the periods of the de facto relationship was at least two years or there is a child of the de facto relationship. The Court must also be satisfied that either party is resident in Australia in that both parties were ordinarily resident during at least a third of the de facto relationship in Australia or that the parties to the de facto relationship were ordinarily resident in Australia when the relationship broke down or the party making the application made substantial financial or non-financial contribution in Australia during the relationship.
The Court will adopt existing family law principles when making de facto property settlement orders. The Court will assess each party’s contribution together with each party’s future needs and their individual circumstances. The Court is now able to make orders for splitting of superannuation in addition to adjustment of non-superannuation property.