All de facto couples, including same-sex couples, have the same rights as married couples under the Family Law Act in relation to the distribution of property.
If you have recently separated from your partner, you can make an application to the court for a ‘de facto property settlement’ if you have either been with your de facto partner for a period of at least two years in total, you have a child together, you have made a substantial contribution to the property or finances of your partner, or if your relationship has been registered under a State or Territory law.
If there is a dispute as to the existence of a de facto relationship, the court will look at a variety of factors including the length of the relationship, living arrangements, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and whether you owned any property together, to name a few. It is important to note that you do not need to be living with your partner to establish a de facto relationship in the eyes of the Court.
You have two years from the date of separation with your de facto partner to apply to the court for a property settlement. If you have reached an agreement with your partner in relation to the distribution of your assets, you can register your agreement with the court in the form of Consent Orders. These Orders will provide you with an exemption from stamp duty if you are required to transfer any property in your asset pool.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you can apply to the court to determine the property settlement for you. It will be compulsory, subject to some exceptions, for yourself and your partner to attend mediation before filing with the court. The court will consider several factors when deciding how to divide your assets fairly and justly, including what assets were brought into the relationship, the net value of all current assets, financial and non-financial contributions made, and any future needs (including the care of any children of the relationship).
It is important that you seek advice from a family lawyer before filing any documents in Court. For more information you can contact Kristy Vukovic or Jenna Cullen, family law solicitors from our office on 02 47049991. Kristy and Jenna can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org