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Misconceptions about de facto partners in family law

There are many misconceptions regarding de facto partners and asset division. The classic example being that if your partner moves in, then after six months they can take half of what you own. It is time to separate fact from fiction to avoid unnecessary stress.

Duration requirements

For a de facto relationship to be reconsidered within the Family Court the couple must be living as a de facto couple for at least two years. If the relationship isn’t as long as that then the Family Court has no jurisdiction to make orders in relation to your assets and liabilities.

Be mindful that there are exceptions to this rule to prevent any serious injustice to the de facto partner who does not hold any assets. Some possible situations where this could apply include when a child is born out of the de facto relationship, or one party has made a significant contribution to the other party’s assets in the time they cohabitated. There isn’t a clear answer as to what a “significant contribution” is. However, your family law solicitor can provide advice in relation to the current case law which can give you some idea.

Short and long relationships

So if you have lived together as a de facto couple for more than two years, what is the other party entitled to should you separate? The Family Court works upon the same principle with regard to short and long unions of married and de facto couples, the only difference being how superannuation is treated within a de facto relationship.

Generally, the presumption is that if the de facto relationship is short, or under five years, the parties should more or less receive what they contributed financially towards the assets plus a percentage accounted for any growth in value of the assets.

If the de facto relationship is a long relationship, non-financial contributions become more relevant with parties’ contributions more likely to be considered equal, which is reflected in what each is to receive.

These presumptions of course differ with the facts and circumstances of each case, which can alter what each party is to receive. Your family law solicitor is best equipped to advise what you could be potentially entitled to. AHL Legal has experienced family lawyers who can help you determine what you can potentially receive in the event of a divorce or breakdown of relationship.