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What is a de facto relationship?

The term "de facto relationship" is defined in Section 4AA of the Family Law Act.

A person is in a de facto relationship with another person if;

  • the persons are not legally married to each other; and
  • the persons are not related by family; 
  • having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

For the purposes of this Act;

  • a de facto relationship can exist between 2 persons of different sexes and between 2 persons of the same gender; and
  • a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship.

For a full definition go to Section 4AA of the Family Law Act.

There are many types of De facto Financial Agreements - click on the buttons to learn more.

Before Cohabitation defacto

During Cohabiation Defacto

After Cohabitation or Separation

Same Gender De Facto

One should note that before the recent amendments to the Act, the regulation of de facto relationships (also known as domestic partnerships) came under state legislation.

All the states and territories except Western Australia have referred their powers under state legislation to the Commonwealth. As WA has its own Family Court Act (which mirrors much of the legislation in the FLA) they have decided to regulate defacto relationships themselves.

Specifically, provisions that relate to Financial matters concerning defacto relationships can be found under PART VIIIAB of the Act.

Here you will find sections 

  • 90UB. Financial agreements before de facto relationship – read more
  • 90UC. Financial agreements during de facto relationship – read more
  • 90UD. Financial agreements after breakdown of a de facto relationship – read more

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