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De Facto Relationships in Brisbane

De facto relationships are marriage-like relationships but without the marriage certificate. They are defined as two people being in a relationship as a couple and living together on a genuine domestic basis. Like a marriage, a de facto relationship can exist between two people of the same sex or two people of different sexes. Unlike a marriage that is easily established by a marriage certificate, a de facto relationship is circumstantial. Various things can be used to ascertain whether two people are in a de facto relationship. De facto relationships in Brisbane can give rise to parenting matters or property matters under the Family Law Act 1975. Brisbane family law matters are dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia at North Quay, around the corner from George Street.  

What Is A De Facto Relationship in Brisbane?

The definition of de facto relationship is the same for all of Australia

Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that two persons (regardless of gender) are in a de facto relationship if they:

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

In assessing whether two people are in a de facto relationship the court must consider the following factors, which are set out in section 4AA of the Act:

  • how long the relationship has lasted;
  • the nature and extent of the couple’s common residence;
  • whether there is a sexual relationship;
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence that exists between the two people, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties;
  • the couple’s ownership, use and acquisition of the property;
  • the degree of mutual commitment the couple has or had to a shared life;
  • whether the relationship is or was registered;
  • the care and support of any children; and
  • the public aspects of the relationship.

Section 90SB Of The Family Law Act

To satisfy the court of the existence of a de facto relationship in Brisbane, the person seeking to establish that the relationship exists or existed will need to satisfy the definition of a de facto relationship, as well as one of the following factors:

  • the relationship lasted for not less than two years; or
  • there is a child; or
  • where the party is seeking a property settlement, that the party made substantial contributions and a failure to make an order would result in serious injustice to the party; or
  • the relationship was registered.

Parties may be in several de facto relationships at once and they pay be married to another person, provided that the criteria under sections 44A and 90SB of the Act are met.

What Is Not A De Facto Relationship in Brisbane?

De facto relationships cannot exist where:

  • two people are married to each other; or
  • two people are closely related by family (such as parent and child, or siblings).

As every relationship is different, the circumstances that the court gives weight to will vary from one relationship to another and no one factor is determinative. 

When seeking orders from the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court for property adjustments and financial assistance, the existence of a de facto relationship must first be established.

Can I Be In More Than One de facto relationship in Brisbane?

Yes. A person can have more than one de facto partner provided they fulfil the criteria for a de facto relationship.

What If I Am Married To Someone Else?

Yes. Section (5)(a) of the Family Law Act states “a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another relationship”.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to de facto relationships in Brisbane or in relation to any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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