De facto property settlements

Property settlements for de facto couples are now governed by the Family Law Act. However, there are still important differences between property settlements for de facto partners, and property settlements for married couples.

What constitutes a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship exists between two adults who live together as a couple, are not related and who are not married. A relationship can be characterised as a de facto relationship if one or more of the following indicia exists:-

  • Parties have lived together for at least two years.
  • Whether or not sexual relationship exists
  • Nature and extent of their common residence
  • Degree of financial dependence and any arrangements for financial support between the parties,
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of property
  • 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

How long do I have to commence proceedings for property settlement?

Parties to a de facto relationship have two years from the date of separation to commence proceedings seeking orders for a just and equitable property settlement. Thereafter, leave of the Court is required to commence proceedings out of time.

What if we reach an agreement on property settlement?

If you reach an agreement on the distribution of your property it can be formally documented in one of two ways. The first being by way of Binding Financial Agreement (BFA) whereby you document your property settlement in a legal agreement after receiving independent legal advice. The second way is to make an application for consent orders. This is a relatively inexpensive application to the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Magistrates’ Court of Australia or the Local Court whereby the Court makes orders that encompass your property settlement.

Somerville Legal holds a regular lunchtime seminar on family law issues of property, parenting and divorce. Please click here to register for the next family law seminar.

For more information about de facto relationship property settlements contact Fiona Hoad  or Layla Doumit.



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