Property Settlements in De Facto Relationships
There is a lot of confusion surrounding howproperty settlements are dealt with in defacto relationships following a relationship breakdown.
- The law that applies for property settlements in defacto relationships is determined by each State. The law that applies for property settlements in marriages is governed by the Federal Government in the Family Law Act.
- There are some significant differences in the law between marriages and defacto relationships, e.g. (in Queensland) in defacto relationships superannuation is not part of the property that can be divided and spouse maintenance is not available to defacto couples.
- In Queensland, a defacto couple is defined as being a ‘genuine domestic relationship’, where:
- The parties have been living in a defacto relationship for at least 2 years; or
- There is a child of the defacto relationship (in which case, no cohabitation period is required).
- The criteria for the division of property under the Queensland legislation is similar to the criteria set out under the Family Law Act i.e it considers financial and non-financial contributions made by each party, as well as a spouse’s current and future needs.
- The Queensland legislation enables defacto couples who do not want to be bound by the legislation to enter into a Recognised Agreement, this is an enforceable agreement similar to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
There have been discussions between the State and Federal Governments for many years about the States referring their powers for defacto relationship property settlements to the Commonwealth.
The definition of a defacto relationship (under the Family Law Act) is very similar to the definition in the Queensland legislation.
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