De Facto Separation?

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3 June 2014
My ex de facto partner moved in with me early 2009. By the end of 2009, I had sold my home and bought a new property. Everything is in my name and my contribution was 100%. i.e. he did not financially contribute towards anything. All bills are in my name, and I did majority of cooking, cleaning shopping etc. His contribution has been some minor cosmetic work on the first property, whist he stayed basically rent free for 6 months and I gave him $4700 to buy a bike.

When we moved in to the new place he was giving me $250 a week, which went up to $300 a couple of years ago. Last year, his son moved in with us and 4 months ago his daughter did to!!! I am still only getting $300pw now for the 3 of them. The relationship fizzed out probably just over a year ago, but I let it slide for a while because I felt sorry for him. But around Easter things just became unbearable and I asked him to leave with his kids. Then he started talking about what his share in the place is and threatening legal action to get it.

Can anyone tell me what, if anything he may be able to claim (property settlement)? Thanks


Hi Curious1,

I am no expert in family law, but I do know that a new de facto property regime was brought in in 2009, which brought property and spousal maintenance matters for separating de facto couples within the federal family law regime under the Family Law Act 1975. It applies to couples in all Australian states and territories except Western Australia.

This means that separating de facto couples in most states and territories can access the Family Law Courts for property and spousal maintenance matters.

Here is some info on the laws.

When did the laws commence?

Commonwealth laws for the division of property for people in de facto relationships that break down commenced on 1 March 2009. The laws commenced in South Australia on 1 July 2010.

What do the laws do?

The laws provide for de facto couples, when they separate, to obtain property settlements on the principles that apply under the Family Law Act 1975 to married couples.

The laws enable the Family Law Courts to order a division of any property that the couple own, either separately or together with each other. Superannuation that each partner has can also be split (married couples have been able to split superannuation since 2002). Spouse maintenance can also be ordered (not previously possible in Queensland, South Australia, or before December 2008, in Victoria).

The Family Law Courts can make these orders if satisfied of one of the following:
  • the period (or the total of the periods) of the de facto relationship is at least 2 years
  • there is a child of the de facto relationship
  • one of the partners made substantial financial or non-financial contributions to their property or as a homemaker or parent and serious injustice to that partner would result if the order was not made, or
  • the de facto relationship has been registered in a State or Territory with laws for the registration of relationships.
What relationships are covered?

A de facto relationship is a relationship that two people who are not married or related by family have as a couple living together on a ‘genuine domestic basis’.

It can exist between 2 people of the opposite sex, or between 2 people of the same sex.

All the circumstances of the relationship will determine whether a couple have a de facto relationship. These include:
  • the duration of their 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.
This of course does not preclude you fighting to retain rights over your property and a court will of course consider all of the circumstances of your case to come to a just conclusion.