8 Comments Family & de facto law, financial agreements, consent orders
According to the Family Law Act you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not legally married to each other, you are not related by family and you have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. You both need to meet the basic threshold criteria of a de facto relationship. The courts will recognise a de facto relationship by the following points: * How long you were in a relationship * Whether you lived together * If a sexual relationship existed * The financial arrangements in place * The way you owned, shared and used property * The degree of commitment you both had to a shared life together * If your relationship was registered in your State or Territory * The financial and physical care arrangements for your children * The reputation and public aspects of your relationship. If some or all of these factors can be established, you then need to show you lived together for two years or more before you are able to make a claim for a property settlement. No one factor is given more weight than the others.
Thanks Francene. I am looking for general rules of thumb to follow when allowing a girlfriend/partner (with whom one is having a sexual relationship) to stay over in one's house so that the risk of being judged to be in a De Facto relationship is minimised in the event of any future relationship breakdown. I realise that it is not possible to devise a water-tight strategy so I am just looking for general rules of thumb. Example rules I can think of might be:- 1. Avoid more than X nights a week of her staying overnight in your home (X=3 ?) 2. If the relationship is not going to last then make sure it ends before Y months (Y=24 ?) 3. Do not give her a key to the house 4. Do not allow her to use your address for receiving mail 5. Don't allow her clothes to be stored in your wardrobes 6. Make sure all food consumed in the house is purchased by you and she does not bring groceries to the house. 7. When travelling away somewhere without her, advise her to get any of her belongings from your house that she needs before you leave, as she will not have access. 8. Do not mix finances 9. Do not have children If you have any suggestions to add or comments to make on these example rules that would be useful. Sorry to anyone reading if the list sounds a bit calculating, but, unfortunately, that is the nature of relationships when looking at them from a legal risk perspective.
This is an interesting area in family law and even beyond (with the concept of domestic relationship), but the following case makes some very interesting points. The following 2 articles have a lot of information on this matter. **De facto couples have differences to married counterparts, judge says** "Judge Joe Harman has ruled a man and woman who had a child, bought a home together, and lived in it for 13 years were not in a de facto relationship and had had sex out of “need”, not love. This meant the court had no jurisdiction to divide up their property under family law." http://www.familylawexpress.com.au/family-law-news/familylawcourts/precedent/de-facto-couples-have-differences-to-married-counterparts-judge-says/2258/ **The financial fallout of a de facto relationship breakdown** How does one establish or rebut the ‘coupledom’ principle? The following evidence could assist in establishing or rebutting the coupledom principle: -Evidence from friends and neighbours that the applicant did not move-in; -Toll records: In a recent case the writer had, the applicant alleged she lived with the respondent for two years and five days and she was at his home at all times except when she worked. The toll records established that she did not cross the Harbour Bridge to go to her work except on limited occasions; -Facebook: In particular the “status” that people ascribe to themselves can be of assistance. Do they describe themselves in a relationship with the respondent; do they have photos of the respondent on Facebook; -Bank statements/credit card statements: To establish locations where transactions were conducted and thus whether there was any moving in or merger of two lives. In a recent case the writer had, during cross-examination the applicant revealed that the way she was able to work out whether she was in the relationship with the writer’s client at various times (they had a number of separations during their alleged relationship) was by viewing her credit card statements. Having mapped out her expenditure on her credit cards over the period of the alleged relationship of 4.5 years proved very useful, as the writer was able to put to her periods that she omitted to include in her affidavit as being periods when she and the respondent were not together. -Did one spouse move their belongings to the home of the other spouse? Or did they come with an overnight bag? The merger of two lives is powerfully illustrated where spouses move their belongings and items of furniture to the home of the other spouse. -------Situations where one spouse turns up, even as regularly as a couple of times a week, with an overnight bag and where they may leave some of their accessories behind, do not amount to coupledom. Their relationship appears not have matured to a merger of their lives together. http://www.familylawexpress.com.au/family-law-news/divorce-2/the-financial-fallout-of-a-de-facto-relationship-breakdown/1081/