The ever-present topic of gay marriage highlights some issues surrounding the rights of same-sex couples. What rights do same-sex couples have in family law? In a nutshell, the answer is that in Australia, the same laws apply to same-sex couples as to de facto heterosexual couples when it comes to family law property division.

A de facto relationship is defined as a relationship between two people who are not married but live together or have lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis. Generally, the court will not make orders unless it is satisfied that the parties have been in a de facto relationship for at least two years, however, there are situations in which the courts will recognise a shorter relationship (for example, if there is a child of the relationship or if the applicant has made significant contributions). This similarly applies in the case of same-sex relationships.

Children born or adopted by same-sex couples are recognised as the children of both same-sex parents for the purposes of family law matters and child support issues. These changes mean that most children would have both their same-sex parents legally recognised for all family law purposes, including property and parenting disputes.

There are, however, complicating factors that are unique to each situation. If you require assistance or advice in relation to your same-sex relationship, please contact Canberra’s leading family lawyers, Farrar Gesini Dunn.

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By Jessica Kennedy