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De Facto Relationships

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100

Peter Magee

De facto relationships are relationships similar to a marriage – without the marriage certificate. They are defined as two people having a relationship as a couple, living together on a genuine domestic basis.

Unlike a marriage that is easily identified by a certificate issued by Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria, usually following a ceremony in the presence of family and friends, a de facto relationship is circumstantial and differs from one relationship to the next.

Also unlike a marriage in Australia, a de facto relationship can exist between two people of the same sex, or two people of the opposite sex.


Section 44A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that two parties (irrespective of gender) are in a de facto relationship if they:

  • Are not legally married;
  • Are not related by family; and
  • Are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.

In assessing whether parties’ are in a de facto relationship and are in fact living together on a genuine domestic basis the Court must take into consideration the following factors, which are set out in Section 44A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth):

  • The duration of the parties’ relationship;
  • The nature and extent of the parties’ common residence;
  • whether a sexual relationship exists between the parties;
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties;
  • The ownership, use and acquisition of the parties property;
  • The degree of the parties’ mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • Whether the parties relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory;
  • The care and support of children to the parties’ relationship; and
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.


To satisfy the Court of the existence of the de facto relationship the party will need to firstly satisfy the definition of a de facto relationship, in addition to one of the following factors pursuant to Section 90SB of the Family Law Act 1975:

  • The relationship extended for a total period of not less than 2 years; or
  • There is a child of the de facto relationship; or
  • The party made substantial contributions and a failure to make an Order for a property settlement would result in serious injustice to that party; or
  • The relationship was registered under prescribed State or Territory Law (Parties to a de facto relationship in Victoria can register their relationship with Births, Deaths and Marriages pursuant to the Relationships Act 2008)

Parties may be in several de facto relationships or married to another person, provided that the criterion set out in Sections 44A and 90SB of the Family Law Act 1975 are met.

where to next?

If you have any questions regarding family law, we invite you to telephone Armstrong Legal’s experienced, knowledgeable and approachable Family Lawyers. We look forward to discussing your family law questions with you and can also help you arrange a no obligation initial consultation at our office so that we can meet you in person and discuss your case in greater detail. Our office is conveniently located in Melbourne CBD at Level 13, 575 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100

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