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What Is A De Facto Relationship? | Seton Family Lawyers Central Coast

What’s a de facto relationship?

In the latest census by The Australian Bureau of Statistics, over two million Australians reported they were in a de facto relationship. So, while this relationship status is more widely known now, there are often misconceptions about what constitutes a de facto relationship and the legal rights around them. In this article, we cover the essential aspects of de facto relationships that you should know about.

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship in Australia is defined as a genuine and ongoing relationship between two people who live together as a couple but are not married. This includes both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. However, it’s important to note that simply living together may not automatically qualify as a defacto relationship.

There are a number of factors that can be taken into account when determining whether a couple are de facto. None are conclusive and not all have to be satisfied in all cases. They are as follows:

  • The duration of the relationship.
  • Sharing a household and living together.
  • Whether a sexual relationship exists.
  • Having a genuine commitment to a shared life together.
  • Joint property ownership and/or financial dependence.
  • Presenting yourselves as a couple to the public and family.
  • If you have a child together.

What are the legal rights of de facto couples?

De facto couples have many of the same legal rights as married couples, with significant areas of where these rights apply including:

Property and finance

If a de facto relationship ends, the Family Law Act allows for the division of property and financial assets in a similar manner to spouses who are divorcing. This includes assets acquired during the relationship, and even assets held separately by each partner.


Like married couples, de facto couples who have children together share obligations and rights regarding parental responsibility, care arrangements, and financial support.


If your relationship breaks down, you may be eligible for maintenance, which is financial support from the other partner after the relationship ends. Your relationship must meet jurisdictional requirements for the court to make a de facto maintenance order.

Understanding these legal rights can help you make informed decisions about your relationship and its potential outcomes.

Do I need to register a de facto relationship?

Registering your defacto relationship is not mandatory in Australia, although some states and territories provide the option to register your relationship formally. The benefits of registering your defacto relationship can provide you with additional legal recognition, easier access to government services, and potential exemptions from certain taxes.

It’s important to note that the requirements and benefits of registering a de facto relationship may vary from each state or territory, so ensure you check the specific regulations in your jurisdiction if you are considering registration.

Are you in a de facto relationship and need legal advice?

Seton Family Lawyers are experienced and accredited family law specialists on the Central Coast of NSW. Contact us today to book an appointment. We can provide legal advice for your defacto relationship and family matters. We settle 98% of cases outside of court and are conveniently located in Erina.

Talk to our team today

Don’t wait to get the professional support that you need to protect yourself and your family.

Where to find us

Suite 9, 168 The Entrance Rd,
Erina NSW 2250