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VIC De Facto Relationship & Entitlements

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Collins, 7 June 2015.

  1. Collins

    Collins Member

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    I was in a De facto relationship for 3 years and have been separated now for 3 months. During those 3 years, we lived together in his house. I worked but also maintained the house by performing all the domestic duties as well as looking after the garden mowing etc as he worked night shift & was always tired or asleep. I looked after his child also.

    Also, when we separated, it was done deceitfully to get me out of the house since then I've been seeing a counsellor and my mental health has taken a blow which has effected me financially.

    I want to know what I am entitled to & my rights under family law please.

    Thank you
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    were you living together for the three years? Is the child his from a previous relationship?
     
  3. Collins

    Collins Member

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    Yes we were & yes the child is his..
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    So, a property settlement can be whatever you choose if you can reach agreement with the other party. It's mandatory to attempt to reach agreement before the court will permit proceedings to commence, and a family dispute resolution conference will help you work toward this goal.

    There is no foolproof formula to work out what a person is entitled to because property settlements are decided on a case-by-case basis, but if the court were to arbitrate a property settlement, it would follow a four-step process:

    1. What's the total value of the joint asset pool? This includes anything in which you both have a joint interest. For example, if the house was solely in his name, but you lived there, it is an asset in which you have a joint interest.​

    2. What was the financial and non-financial contribution of each party? This is fairly self-explanatory. Financial contribution is, for example, mortgage repayments. Non-financial contributions include housekeeping, DIY renovations, etc. Your duties in lawnmowing, caring for his child, etc. are considered non-financial contributions.​

    3. What are the future needs of each party? Future needs include the capacity of each party to earn in future, the requirement of one party to care for a child, etc.

    4. Is the property settlement just and equitable? This is the court's overruling observation of the settlement in whether or not it is fair.​

    A lot of parties use this formula to help them reach agreement in family dispute resolution, rather than waiting for court arbitration. For de facto relationships, as well, it's worthwhile remembering that where the relationship was relatively brief, the court will ordinarily enable each party to keep the assets they held before the relationship commenced.

    While it's impossible to put a percentage value on it, your non-financial contribution to the housekeeping would likely result in some form of settlement, but in my personal opinion, the other party would likely retain the majority of the assets.

    I say this because based on the facts you've provided above, the relationship was fairly brief (by court standards, anyway), he owned the house prior to the relationship commencing, he was the primary or only breadwinner (this is a very rough assumption as it's unclear whether you made financial contributions, as well) and he has a child to care for in future.

    In any case, your first point of call is family dispute resolution to try and reach agreement. If that fails, you can pursue court proceedings. In that case, it's important to ask whether a property settlement costing, for example, $20,000 in legal fees is worth the $10,000 you might get out of it. I also suggest getting legal advice, which Legal Aid can provide through a free consultation - you just need to call and book an appointment. They can also help with family dispute resolution.
     

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