Frequently Asked Questions About De Facto Relationships

If you aren't married, but you are in a committed relationship and want your status changed, you may be able to do so by hiring a family lawyer who can help you obtain official designation as a de facto couple under The Family Law Act of 1975 . As you enter this process, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about these types of relationships.

What Will You Have To Do To Confirm Status With a  Judge? -- In order for a family lawyer to get a judge to grant you de facto status, you must provide evidence that you are in an existing relationship, that the relationship has a sexual aspect, that you pay bills and other debts jointly, that you own or are living on property together, that you both care for any children that are in your relationship, and that witnesses can attest to the fact that they consider you to be a couple. Remember that even if you are legally married to someone, and are also in a second relationship, that second relationship can still be designated as de facto if you meet all the requirements.

What Kinds of Rights Will One Receive Once They Obtain a de facto Status? -- After a court issues you a de facto relationship status, you will have the same rights conferred to a married couple, including how your finances can be split in the event that you end your relationship, the process in deciding who gains custody of any children you have in the relationship, and how any joint property that you own will be divided should you decide to leave the relationship. You will also be eligible for the same kinds of state benefits offered to married couples, and if your partner dies, you may be entitled to a portion of that person's estate.

What Are One's Responsibilities If They End a De Facto Relationship? --  If you break up with your de facto partner and you are going to make a claim for property division, you must do so within two years of the date that you ended the relationship. If you make your claim within that two years, your family lawyer can help you enforce any financial agreements you made while you were in the relationship, or your lawyer can apply for a property order if no agreement was made. A property order entitles you to a court hearing where a judge will decide how to divide property owned and maintained while you were in the relationship.