Separated or thinking about Separation?
De facto, same sex, marriage
Although same sex marriage is not yet recognised, same sex de facto relationships, that meet the definition under the Family Law Act, are given the same rights to property settlement as non same sex couples.
The method of working out what is a “just and equitable” property settlement for all de facto couples and same sex couples (who separated after 1 March 2009) is set out in the Family Law Act 1975.
When the Family Court is required to make a determination of the respective entitlements of the parties it conducts a four stage inquiry:-
- Firstly, it looks at the assets of the parties.
- The second stage is for the court to determine the proportions in which the parties can be said to have “contributed” to the acquisition, conservation and improvement of their assets and how they have contributed to the welfare of the family.
- The third stage requires the court to look at the “future needs” of the parties – that is the court considers whether any adjustment should be made to the shares to which the parties are entitled by reason of their “contributions” because of certain matters.
- In the fourth stage the court considers whether the division that has been determined through the first three stages is ‘just and equitable’.
Most matters are resolved by agreement without the court making a decision but by lawyers advising as to entitlements based on the Four Stage Approach.
If you are a de facto couple who separated prior to 1 March 2009 the relevant State or Territory legislation may apply.