The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Family Law Act”) deals with a variety of matters including divorce, parenting and property settlement between parties who have separated. In March 2009 legislative amendments to the Family Law Act introduced guidance to assist in determining the eligibility of a de facto relationship. Following this, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia was empowered with jurisdiction to deal with parties to a de facto relationship in matters where certain conditions are met as explained by Justice Murphey in the Full Court decision of Fenton v Marvel  FamCAFC 132 set out below:
Section 4AA(1) of the Family Law Act states that a person is considered to be in a de facto relationship with another person if:
In order to determine if persons have a relationship as a couple to constitute a de facto relationship, the Court takes into account a variety of circumstances which may include any or all of the following:
In the event the de facto relationship is established, according to section 90SB of the Family Law Act, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia can make property settlement orders, similarly to parties of a marriage. In order to be eligible, you must satisfy the following:
Once the above criteria has been satisfied, parties of a de facto relationship can divide their assets, liabilities and superannuation using similar procedures that apply to married couples. To make a claim post separation, a party to a de facto relationship has a two-year limitation period from the date of the relationship breakdown to initiate proceedings with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. For further legal advice in relation to your defacto relationship, contact our team today for an initial consultation.