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PPG_Blog_Feb_image 4_defacto relationships and property

Under Australian Law, separating de facto couples have largely the same rights and liabilities as those of married couples with regard to property settlements.

De facto couples who want financial security can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement at any time during their relationship. Binding Financial Agreements are similar to pre-nuptial agreements, in that a couple can use them to set out how their property and other assets would be divided if they were to part ways. Couples can also use a Binding Financial Agreement to deal with issues such as spousal maintenance e.g. exempting each other from making a claim for maintenance, or specifying maintenance terms in the event of a separation.

In the unfortunate event of a separation, couples have a time limit of two years from the date their relationship ending to make a property claim against a former de facto partner. Some exceptions apply, for example, where the couple has had a child together.

It’s interesting to note that whether a couple lived together is only one factor that the court must consider in determining whether a de facto relationship existed and that the couple does not necessarily have to have been living together on a full time basis (or even a half time basis) for the court to consider them as being in a de facto relationship. The court need only consider whether the couple lived together as one of many factors that indicate the existence of a de facto relationship.

If you are in any way unsure of the potential impact your relationship could have on your financial situation, we recommend that you seek appropriate legal advice.

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