Relationships covered by law

The Family Court can make Orders dividing relationship property when you’ve been married or in a civil union or de facto relationship.

Marriages and civil unions

Married people and civil union partners are covered from the date of their marriage or civil union.

Different rules apply for dividing up property, depending on whether you’ve been married or in a civil union for less than 3 years or more than 3 years.

If you were living as a de facto couple before your marriage or civil union, that time will be treated as if it were part of the marriage or civil union.

De facto relationships

In most cases, only people who have lived together in a de facto relationship for at least 3 years are covered unless there is a child involved or 1 partner has made a significant contribution to the relationship.

Defining a de facto relationship

The court will look at many things when deciding whether 2 people are in a de facto relationship, including:

  • how long the relationship lasted
  • the extent to which the couple share a home
  • whether they have a sexual relationship
  • their financial and property arrangements and how much they depend on each other
  • their ownership, use and purchase of property
  • how committed they‘ve both been to a shared life
  • their care and support of children
  • who does the housework and other household duties
  • if the partners are known to family and friends or other people as a couple.

It's a good idea to talk to a lawyer to find out if your relationship is covered.

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