De Facto Relationship Victoria: 7-Point Comprehensive Guide

de facto relationship victoria | Dandenong Family Lawyers

De Facto Relationship Victoria: What Is De Facto?

In Victoria, a de facto relationship is recognised as a relationship between two adults who live together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis but are not married.

This definition encompasses same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Recognising a de facto relationship can significantly affect property settlements, wills and estates, and access to family benefits or support.

Differences Between De Facto and Married Relationships in Victoria

De facto relationships in Victoria are acknowledged based on partners living together domestically without requiring registration or a formal ceremony.

Conversely, marriage requires a formal ceremony and registration under federal law.

Dissolving a marriage necessitates a formal divorce after at least 12 months of separation, whereas de facto relationships can end without formal legal proceedings, although disputes may require court intervention.

Both types of relationship grant similar rights to property and financial settlements upon separation.

Still, de facto couples must prove their relationship meets specific criteria to qualify under the Family Law Act. In contrast, marriages automatically affect wills and estates.

🔑 Key takeaway: Marriage and de facto relationships offer similar legal rights but differ in formal recognition, dissolution procedures, and impacts on wills.

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Registration of De Facto Relationships

While not mandatory, partners in Victoria can formally register their de facto relationship with the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Victoria (BDM).

Registration provides a certificate often used to prove the relationship, handy for legal and official purposes.

To register, partners must fill out an application form, pay a fee, and provide evidence that they are in a relationship and reside in Victoria.

🔑 Key takeaway: Registering a de facto relationship provides a formal acknowledgment, which can simplify legal processes and claims.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Being in a de facto relationship confers rights akin to those of married couples, especially regarding the division of property and debts upon separation.

The Family Law Act governs the breakdown of de facto relationships, giving the Family Court jurisdiction over disputes.

To qualify for property adjustment in a de facto relationship, partners must demonstrate that the relationship existed on a genuine domestic basis for a reasonable duration, generally over two years, that there was a child of the relationship, or that one partner made significant contributions.

🔑 Key takeaway: Under the law, de facto partners have similar rights to married couples, particularly in matters of property, financial settlements, and parental rights.

Separation Process

Ending a de facto relationship does not require formal legal proceedings. However, if disputes arise over property, children, or financial support, legal intervention may be necessary.

Partners have a two-year window from the end of the relationship to apply to the court for orders relating to property or financial matters.

🔑 Key takeaway: While the separation process is straightforward, legal advice may be needed to resolve disputes over finances or children.

Benefits and Government Services

De facto partners are recognised for various purposes in Victorian and federal government services.

This recognition affects eligibility for benefits like Centrelink payments and family tax benefits.

Evidence of the de facto status, such as the registration certificate or other documents proving shared living, may be required.

🔑 Key takeaway: Proof of a de facto relationship can be crucial for accessing government benefits and services.

Why Register a De Facto Relationship: Seek Legal Advice

There are several reasons why partners might choose to register their relationship. It can offer a form of formal recognition which may simplify the process of proving the relationship in legal and official dealings.

This can be particularly important for property disputes, inheritance matters, or applying for governmental and financial benefits.

Both de facto and married couples have similar rights to property and financial settlements upon separation, but de facto partners must prove certain criteria to qualify under the Family Law Act.

Familiarising yourself with the laws surrounding de facto relationships in Victoria and seeking legal advice can help uphold your rights and protect your interests.



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