top of page

PROPERTY SETTLEMENT + DE FACTO COUPLES

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

In Australia, property settlement for de facto couples (unmarried couples who have lived together in a genuine domestic relationship) is governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). De facto couples enjoy similar rights and responsibilities as married couples when it comes to property division following the breakdown of their relationship. Here are some key considerations regarding property settlement for de facto couples in Australia:














1. RECOGNITION OF DE FACTO RELATIONSHIP:

  • To be eligible for property settlement, you must establish that you were in a de facto relationship. This typically includes factors like living together, a mutual commitment, a shared life, and a reputation as a couple.

2. JURISDICTION:

  • Property settlements for de facto couples fall under federal (commonwealth) family law in Australia. The Family Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia has jurisdiction over these matters.

3. TIME LIMIT:

  • There is a time limit for initiating property settlement proceedings following the breakdown of a de facto relationship. Generally, you have two years from the date of separation to file an application for property settlement. After this period, you will likely require the court's permission to proceed.

4. CONTRIBUTIONS:

  • Similar to married couples, the contributions made by each party during the relationship are considered. This includes financial contributions, non-financial contributions (e.g., homemaking and child-rearing), and contributions to the welfare of the family.

5. FUTURE NEEDS:

  • The court will also consider the future needs of both parties, including their age, health, income-earning capacity, and caregiving responsibilities.

6. PROPERTY POOL:

  • The property pool includes all assets and liabilities, both shared and individually owned, at the time of separation. This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, vehicles, superannuation, and debts.

7. JUST & EQUITABLE DIVISION:

  • The court's primary goal is to achieve a just and equitable division of property for both parties. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split, as the court takes into account the specific circumstances of the case (and parties).

8. CONSENT ORDERS OR BINDING FINANCIAL AGREEMENTS:

  • De facto couples can reach an agreement on property division without court involvement. This can be formalised through Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement, both of which require legal advice and legal drafting by a solicitor.

9. DISPUTE RESOLUTION:

  • Parties are encouraged to attempt dispute resolution methods, such as negotiation, mediation, and family dispute resolution to reach a settlement without going to court. The majority of property matters settle without the need of going to Court. A family law solicitor can greatly assist in this process.

10. CHILD- RELATED CONSIDERATIONS:

  • If you have children together, child arrangements (live with and spend time arrangements) and child support should also be addressed. Child arrangements can be formalised by way of a parenting plan (not binding generally) or consent orders, filed through the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (however neither party needs to attend Court).

11. LEGAL ADVICE:

  • It's highly advisable for both parties to seek independent legal advice to understand their rights and responsibilities and to ensure any agreements or court orders are fair and legally sound.

Property settlement for de facto couples in Australia can be complex, and outcomes may vary based on individual circumstances. Consulting with a family lawyer who understands the law surrounding de facto relationship matters is essential to navigate the process effectively and ensure that your interests are protected.

15 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page