If you have been in a long-term relationship and are considering separating, you need to know your legal rights—especially if your relationship is considered to be de facto under Australian law. Knowing if your relationship is de facto will help you determine what course of action you’ll need to take as you end your relationship.
The good news is that in Australia de facto couples have many of the same rights when they break up as married couples do when they separate and divorce. But unlike a marriage—where you have a clearly documented start to your relationship—those in a de facto relationship need to prove that they meet the criteria for a de facto relationship.
How Western Australia Defines a de Facto Relationship
In Western Australia, a de facto relationship is defined in the Interpretation Act 1984 (WA). Any reference in law to a de facto relationship is taken as referring to a relationship between 2 persons who live together in a marriage-like relationship. But are not married.
The following factors indicate that a de facto relationship exists:
- Whether 2 persons have lived together;
- Whether there is or has been, a sexual relationship between them;
- The level of financial dependence or interdependence, or financial support between them; and
- the ownership of property.
It’s important to note that couples aren’t restricted to a male/female partnership; both opposite-sex and same-sex couples can be considered a de facto couple. Also, people who are married but have one or more relationships that meet the law’s requirements can qualify for a de facto relationship status.
But that’s not all it takes to qualify as a de facto couple. In order to be deemed a de facto couple by law, the people in the relationship must also meet various other criteria such as: being in a relationship for over two years, having a child together, or being publically committed to a shared life.
Which Law Do You Fall Under
In Western Australia, the breakdown of de facto relationships comes under the Family Court Act 1997 (WA). WA is the only state or territory in Australia to have its own court, Family Court of Western Australia, that deals with relationship breakdowns and the following fallout.
If your relationship is faltering it is important that you are aware of what a de facto relationship looks like and how its breakdown is dealt with in Western Australia.
To find out if you and your former partner were in a de facto relationship, please fill out the contact form on this page or call (08) 9214 3887 to speak with a member of our team.