Section 4AA(2) of the Family Law Actlists factors to be considered in the determination of whether or not a couple are or have been living together on a genuine domestic basis. These factors can be any, or all, of the following:
- the duration of the relationship
- the nature and extent of their common residence
- whether a sexual relationship exists
- the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support between them
- the ownership, use and acquisition of their property
- the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life
- whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of relationship
- the care and support of children
- the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
No particular finding of any one circumstance is necessary in deciding the existence of the de facto relationship. The relationship can exist between 2 persons of different sexes or between 2 persons of the same sex. It need not be an exclusive relationship. Cohabitation can be relevant but is by no means determinative. The public aspects can vary from secretive to attendance at many family occasions. Ultimately, however each case turns on its own facts, and the 2 person’s recollections of events can vary widely. It is therefore difficult to determine what is, and isn’t, a de facto relationship and whether 2 persons interactions amount to couple, living together on a genuine domestic basis.
If you have an interest in discussing and/or receiving advice on such issues, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Team.