WA Lived with Friend On and Off - De Facto Relationship?

Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now


4 October 2015
Hi, I have known a guy for 12 years, we have lived together in my house off & on over this period, mostly off.. He is a hothead & a drifter.. In & out of work when he chooses to move on somewhere else of his choice.. Mainly Kalgoorlie for a year or two & on a few occasions months...

When things don't suit him he takes off in his caravan & parks up at a couple of caravan parks for a few months at a time.. He came back from Kalgoorlie just after Xmas this year & as things were not acceptable, I ask him to leave last week... I have been taking care of him as he has had bad health over this time. I have only asked him to pay a board of between $150 when he was unemployed & getting the dole & $200 a week when he is working which includes food & amenities...

I own my house & have lived in it for 31 years.. He had no input to the running of my home or any contributions towards the upkeep or acquisition of any purchases... All my furniture & assets are mine.. He is saying he got legal advice & has been told he can claim de facto against me for this time.. We haven't had a sexual relationship for a long time & he has always told me he doesn't feel that way about me...

I feel scared & foolish..


(I am 69 yo)


Hi SuzanneB,

Whether or not you would be considered a de facto couple to which family laws apply depends upon a number of things including:
  • the length of your relationship
  • whether or not you lived at the same residence
  • existence of any sexual relationship between you
  • degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support
  • any ownership, use and purchase of property together
  • degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; and
  • whether you are perceived as a 'couple' by others
It may be that at some stage of your relationship it was a de facto relationship, but that ended some time ago. If this is the case, he still may be prevented from applying to the court because there are time limits on when you can apply to have a court order made regarding property division. Generally its 2 years after the breakdown of a de facto relationship.

I would reinforce to him that you are not in a de facto relationship and that if you ever were it was years ago and he has run out of time to get a property order.

If you did end up being taken to court for property orders, the court would take account of both of your financial and non financial contributions to the relationship.