A de facto relationship is considered to be a relationship (other than a legal marriage) between two persons, who live together in a marriage like relationship.
In determining whether or not a de facto relationship exists a court shall take into consideration the length of time of the relationship; the nature and extent of the common residence; whether there has been a sexual relationship; the degree of financial dependence; the ownership and use or acquisition of property; a degree of mutual commitment by the parties to a shared life; whether they have cared for or supported children; and the reputation and public aspects of the relationship between them.
Relationships that ended before December 1st 2002 are not covered by the WA de facto legislation but rights still exist.
- One of the parties to the relationship must be a resident of WA at the time of filing a Family Court of WA application.
- Both parties must have resided in WA for a least one third of the duration of the relationship.
- The court may make a property order where the parties have been together less than two years if there is a child of the relationship, or one of the parties can show they have made substantial contributions to other’s assets or a serious injustice if a property order was not made.
- Couples of the same or different gender.
- A party who may also be in a legal marriage or another de facto relationship.
Where a party in a de facto relationship is unable to support themselves after the breakdown of the relationship, the other party has a duty to support them as far as they are reasonably able to do so.
People in de facto relationships have the same rights as married couples for both financial and non-financial contributions to the relationship according to the Family Law Act, except in relation to superannuation.
Approximately 95 per cent of family law matters (including de facto and married matters) settle between the parties by negotiation after court proceedings are commenced but before trial. Negotiations can be explored either through various counselling or mediation organisations or through the use of a lawyer. The court process also involves several required stages of negotiation before trial.