De Facto couples (including same sex couples) who separate after 1 March 2009 have the same rights as married couples. The rights and obligations of couples upon the breakdown of a Marriage or De Facto relationship are now all governed by the Family Law Act 1975. De Facto couples who separated prior to 1 March 2009 are still covered by the old State legislation, the Property (Relationships) Act 1984, although the parties to the relationship may agree for the Family Law Act to apply to them (this is called “opting in”).
The changes to the legislation which came into effect on 1 March 2009 mean that De Facto couples have the same entitlement with respect to property settlement, superannuation splitting, parenting matters and spouse maintenance as married couples. However, there are also certain geographical requirements to be met concerning your residence in NSW.
In Family Law matters, the duration of a relationship is an important factor. The duration of a marriage is more easily identifiable from the date of marriage and the date of separation is usually recorded for the purposes of divorce proceedings. For de facto relationships, there may be disputes about whether the De Facto relationship existed at all, when the relationship began, or when it ended.
If you are in a de facto relationship, these matters are important in determining whether you have any entitlement under the Family Law Act. The expert Family Lawyers at Edwards Family Lawyers can provide you with expert legal advice regarding all issues arising from your De Facto relationship.