I was in a De facto relationship – Can I still apply for a property settlement?

The ability for de facto couples to make an application for a property settlement under the Family Law Act came into effect on 1 March 2009.

Before this de facto couples had to apply to State or Territory courts with their claim for property settlements. This was problematic in many ways and the Family Law Act amendments were very welcome and significant changes.

Whether the Family Law Act applies to you:

  1. Do you meet the definition of De facto relationship under 4AA of Family Law Act?
    You can read the definition section of the Act on the Federal Register of Legislation website: s4AA FLA
    Keep in mind that none of these considerations are more important than any other and this list is NOT exhaustive. Importantly same sex couples can be considered to be in de facto relationships. Usually your solicitor will be able to tell you whether or not you were in a de facto relationship.
  2. Do you satisfy the geographical requirements in 90SK?
    If you lived outside Australia or in Western Australia during your relationship then you might not meet the requirement. If this applies to you then it best to talk to your solicitor and get them to look over the geographical requirement as it can be complicated and confusing.
  3. Did you separate after 1 March 2009? Yes or no?
    If the answer is yes than the Family Law Act applies to you. If you separated before 2009 than you will need to talk to your solicitor about whether or not the opt in provisions will apply to you or if state or territory law is applicable.
  4. Do you meet one or more of the other Jurisdictional thresholds?
    These are set out in section 90SB of the Family Law Act.

    1. If you were in a relationship for at least 2 years;
    2. If you had a child together;
    3. If you registered your relationship or entered into a civil union; or
    4. If one person in the relationship made substantial contributions to the relationship and a serious injustice would occur if the court does not make orders.