De facto for 9+ years. What are My Legal Rights?

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6 May 2014
I have been in a de facto relationship with my partner for over 9 years. I moved to WA in 2004 with all I had at the time. I was granted a work visa in 2007, a Spouse visa in 2008 and have been a Permanent Resident since Sept. 2009. I am about to apply for citizenship. I work as a casual retail shop assistant. I pay my own bills, buy my own food and necessities for the most part, do my best to contribute to the household (bills, misc things) when I can. I live with my partner in his house, pay no rent/make no mortgage payments on his house (therefore am not listed on his house, he had house before I came here). I do work around the house, cook, clean, garden, etc,. He works at the same job he has had for over 20 years and makes probably 4 times what I do annually. Our relationship is breaking down, there is no physical violence, but more emotional/mental control/verbal abuse, many times very nasty (sometimes fueled on his part, by alcohol). I am concerned about rights I may have regarding separating and any financial help I might receive. He tells me I am entitled to absolutely nothing, even though I came halfway across the world to be here with him in 2004.

I cannot leave without anything and believe he would have to help me, but I need to know what my rights and options are before I say or do anything. Can you help me with some general family law information at least?


Well-Known Member
19 April 2014
Hi Susan

My understanding is that you do have rights as a de facto. It sounds like you've made substantial homemaker contributions over the years of your relationship. From what you've said, you're based in WA so you have recourse through the Family Court WA.

The Family Court WA has a "De facto Relationships" webpage and brochures at the bottom of the page with information for de factos and in relation to property settlements. The Family Court WA "How does the Family Court deal with a property case" publication sets out what the court considers to decide who should get what in a property settlement with a key consideration being what division of property is just and equitable to the parties given their particular circumstances.

Legal Aid WA also have good information on "Dividing property - de facto couples" (Legal Aid WA also have an InfoLine: 1300 650 579).

The Women's Law Centre of WA might also be able to provide you with legal advice and support (Phone: (08) 9272 8800).

Remember that you have 2 years from the time you separate with your partner to apply to the Family Court for a property settlement.

Hope that helps. Let us know how you go.