No interest in getting married? Many couples opt to remain in a de facto relationship rather than go through the marriage process. But, whether you’re about to enter a new de facto relationship or perhaps your relationship is on the verge of breaking up, it is important to understand your rights in Qld.
What is a De Facto Relationship in Qld?
Under Section 60EA of the Family Law Act 1975, a de facto relationship is when two adults are together in a marriage-like relationship. To be recognised as a de facto relationship under the Australian law, couples can either be the same sex or opposite sex.
If the Court is required to determine whether or not a de fact relationship exists, the following indicators are taken into consideration as per Section 4AA:
- How long the couple have been together, including any previous records of separation. The length of time to be considered de facto is 2 years. There are exceptions to this rule if there are children involved or substantial contributions to a joint property;
- The nature and extent of the couple’s common residence;
- Whether or not a sexual relationship exists;
- The financial dependence or interdependence, including any financial support arrangements;
- The acquisition, ownership and use of property;
- The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- The reputation of the relationship, for instance, to family and friends; and
- The care and support of any children under their care.
Multiple De Facto Relationships
What happens if you find that your de facto partner is, in fact, part of another de facto relationship? Section 4AA of the Family Law Act acknowledges that a person can be married while simultaneously in a de facto relationship with another person. It also acknowledges that a person can be in two simultaneous de facto relationships, meaning a de facto relationship does not need to be mutually exclusive.
Registering a De Facto Relationship
In Queensland, de facto couples can choose to register their relationship, either as a sign of commitment or for other legal reasons. If couples wish to register a de facto relationship in Qld, they can do this through the state’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. When registering in Queensland, both parties must be over the age of 18 and one partner must be a Qld resident. Contrary to being in multiple de facto relationships, if the parties choose to register relationship, neither can be married or already in a registered relationship. A registered relationship ends if either party marries.
Breakdown of De Facto Relationship
If your de facto relationship breaks down, the official action to signify the end of the relationship is informing the ex-partner. There is no need to fill out forms or apply to the Court. Both parties can choose to amicably separate and divide property and assets without attending court. However, if both parties cannot agree on terms, they can apply to the Court for financial or property orders. Partners have a limit of up to two years after the relationship has ended to finalise any property or maintenance issues.
Before making any applications to the Court, a couple must satisfy all of the following criteria:
- There was a genuine de facto relationship which is broken down
- The couple meets one of the following four gateway criteria
- The de facto relationship lasted for at least 2 years
- There is a child in the de facto relationship
- The relationship was registered in a state or territory
- Significant contributions were made by one party and it would be unfair to that party if an order is not issued
- There is a geographical connection to a participating jurisdiction
- The relationship broke down after 1 March 2009
Property settlements, parenting arrangements and financial orders for de facto relationships in Qld are the same as married couples’ rights. If you require legal representation when dividing assets, our team of qualified family lawyers can help.
Death of a De Facto Partner
If you are in a de facto relationship and your partner passes away, you are entitled to the same rights that apply to a married person. This includes the following:
- A share of an estate with the next of kin (spouse/de facto partner and children/grandchildren) where no Will exists. However, the surviving partner will have to prove that they were a de facto spouse at the time of death;
- The right to contest the Will within 6 months from the date of the deceased’s death; and
- The right to lodge a claim for workers compensation if it is a work-related fatality
Speak to a Lawyer About Your Rights in a De Facto Relationship in Qld
Want to learn more about being in a de facto relationship in Qld and your rights? Our team of highly skilled family lawyers are highly experienced in separation law as well as property settlement matters. Get in touch to learn more or find the right legal representation for you.