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Almost all couples in Australia have their rights to a property settlement determined by reference to the Family Law Act, this is regardless of whether the couple is:-
- de facto or married;
- in a same sex or a heterosexual relationship.
There are occasional exceptions for couples who:-
- do not fit in the category of a de facto relationship;
- are beyond the time limit for completing a property settlement and cannot persuade a court to extend the limitation period.
Differences in legislation
There are differences in the legislation but the framework for determining de facto and same sex relationships is broadly similar to the framework for couples who are married or in heterosexual relationships.
In these cases, the challenge can sometimes be in determining when the de facto relationship commences and ends or whether there has been a de facto relationship at all. There are a large list of factors set out in the Family Law Act which are to be considered in determining whether a couple is in a de facto relationship at any point in time. For a relationship to be found to be a de facto relationship does not require the relationship to have all of these features or things. The cases show that there is a variety of relationships which have nonetheless been found to be de facto relationships.
Getting advice from an experienced family lawyer is crucial in determining whether there has been a de facto relationship and how long the relationship has been.