Am I in a de facto relationship? -- here are some of the signs

Family Law - 29 August 2017

A "de facto" relationship is where two people who are not married or related by family, are in a relationship as a couple on a “genuine domestic basis".

There are a number of factors that may indicate a de facto relationship. Here we list the type of evidence that may be required to prove the existence of a de facto relationship.


The duration of the relationship

  • The relationship lasted for more than two years, although there are some exceptions in certain circumstances
  • The longer the relationship exists, the stronger the argument that the relationship was a "de facto relationship"

The nature and extent of their common residence

  • Whether the couple cohabited during the course of the relationship
  • Payment of board or rent by one of the couple to the other
  • Address or residence of couple in official correspondence, on their licences, the electoral roll, and other government agencies and income tax returns etc.

Whether a sexual relationship exists

  • The frequency of the couple's sexual relationship
  • The mutual exclusivity of the couple's sexual relationship

The degree of financial dependence or interdependence

  • Joint ownership of property
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Health insurance in joint names
  • Payment towards joint mortgage(s) and / or loans
  • Sharing of household and other expenses
  • Income tax returns of the couple

The ownership, use, and acquisition of their property

  • Joint ownership of real estate (or discussions around purchasing one)
  • Living together in a property
  • Payments towards the mortgage of a property owned by one of the couple
  • Purchase of furniture and chattels
  • Beneficiaries under the couple's superannuation policies

The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life

  • Living together in a common residence
  • Spending regular time together and with friends and family
  • Conversations and statements the couple make to each other and to others about each other
  • Attending functions together such as weddings, engagement parties, and other functions
  • Sharing meals
  • Regular telephone conversations
  • Assisting with the care of each other's children
  • 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

  • Whether the couple has children together or from other relationships
  • Whether the couple care for or financially support the children
  • Transporting children to various activities or school

The reputation and public aspects of the relationship, evidence of the parties socialising together

  • Attending functions together such as weddings, engagement parties, and other functions
  • Whether invitations to functions are addressed to both of the couple and whether there are photographs of the couple together at the functions
  • How the couple refer to each other
  • Provisions in the couple's wills
  • Beneficiaries under the couple's superannuation policies

Need more help?

If you are in any way unsure of the potential impact your relationship could have on your financial situation, we recommend that you seek appropriate legal advice. The Lander & Rogers Family & Relationship Law team is able to offer discrete and practical advice to suit your specific needs and circumstances.

Further information

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