As de facto relationships become increasingly prevalent we see individuals concerned about what would happen to their assets in the event of separation.

There is, of course, two sides to every story. Perhaps you are the person who has brought significant assets with you to the relationship and you want to protect those assets in the event of separation. Alternatively, you may be the person who made sacrifices for the relationship and, as a result, you are now left with very little at the end.

Wherever you stand on the spectrum, it is important to know your rights and in what circumstances you can make a claim on your ex-spouse’s assets or in what circumstances they could make a claim against yours.

What even is a “de facto relationship”?

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are in a de facto relationship.

The term ‘de facto relationship’ is defined by the Family Law Act 1975 and sets out several circumstances which can affect whether or not you are deemed to be in a de facto relationship including (but not limited to):

  1. How long you have been in a relationship for;
  2. Whether you live together;
  3. How financially dependent you were on your partner; or
  4. How you present yourselves to friends, family and strangers.

However, it is important to be aware that no single factor will automatically mean that you are or are not in a de facto relationship. Each component is a contributing factor.

How can I protect myself?

We always encourage our clients to protect themselves early in the relationship by entering into a financial agreement. An agreement entered into early in the relationship, is usually made at a time when both parties to the relationship are looking out for each other’s best interests. Compare this to trying to reach an agreement at the end of a relationship when emotions run high and parties are more concerned about looking after their own interests.

Here at SKC Lawyers, we can offer you assistance no matter what stage you are at in your relationship. If you have queries, we invite you to come in and see one of our family lawyers to have all of your concerns addressed.

Did you know – Fun Facts:

  1. Recognition of de facto relationships is a relatively new area in family law. In fact, it is only since 2009 that couples in a de facto relationship could make an Application to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court in order to receive a property settlement just as a married couple would.
  2. Even the Family Law Act recognises that an individual can be in multiple relationships at the same time – so you better be careful if you’ve got a secret partner on the side, you could be in for a world of pain if they turn around and claim against your assets when/if that relationship ends!

Written by Courtney Weekes, Lawyer