What is a De Facto Relationship?

A de facto relationship is one where you and your partner, of the same or opposite sex, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. It is not a de facto relationship if you are legally married to one another or are related to each other.

Since March 2009, parties to an eligible de facto relationship that has broken down can apply to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court to have financial matters determined in the same way as married couples.

All the circumstances of the relationship will determine whether a couple have a de facto relationship. These include:

  • the duration of the relationship
  • the nature and extent of their common residence
  • whether a sexual relationship exists
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of their property
  • their degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
  • whether the relationship has been registered, in a State or Territory with laws for the registration of relationships
  • the care and support of children, and
  • the reputation and public aspects of their relationship.

Financial Disputes

You must apply for the de facto financial orders within two years of the breakdown of your relationship. After this time you need the Court’s permission to apply.


The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court deal with issues related to the children of de facto relationships in the same way as the children of married couples.

Before filing an application, you should obtain legal advice about whether your circumstances satisfy the criteria.

If you have any questions about De Facto Relationships, call Acclaim Legal on (02) 9744 0722