Long Term Relationships

Does a long term relationship mean you’re entitled to part of your former partner’s property?

A recent Australian case has shown that even for very long term relationships, there is no guaranteed right to property settlement. 

Long Term Relationships

Long term relationships


It is wrong to assume that a person is entitled to a family law property settlement following the breakdown of their relationship, even where it was a very long term relationship.

The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia in a judgement delivered in December 2016 dismissed  an appeal against the decision of a trial judge that it would not be just and equitable to make any order for property settlement.

The case involved a 27 year relationship. By the time that the parties separated, one of the parties had assets and superannuation worth more than double those of the other party.

The trial judge had found that the parties conducted their affairs in such a way that neither party would or could have acquired an interest in the property owned by the other. Various reasons for that were given by the trial judge including that:

  • There was no intermingling of the party’s respective finances;
  • The parties did not have a joint bank account;
  • Each party had purchased property in their own name;
  • Each party was responsible for their own debts;
  • Each party could use their earnings as they chose without explaining or accounting to the other party;
  • There was a complete lack of joint financial decision making;
  • The parties did not share information with each other as to their individual financial decision making or their respective financial situations;
  • Neither party had taken steps to ensure that the other would receive property or superannuation in the event of death.

The Full Court said that the trial judge had made no findings that would point to any express and implicit assumptions that a party would ultimately share in the other’s property or that one would benefit on the death of the other.

For more information on property settlements, de facto relationships or same sex relationship rights under family law, click here. Or, to receive tailored legal advice with our experienced family lawyers, give us a call today.

Family Law Act

De Facto Relationships and bringing a claim under the Family Law Act 1975

Are you in a de facto relationship? Are you wanting to know what your rights are and how you can bring a claim under the Family Law Act? Find out here.

Family Law Act

De Facto relationships and the Family Law Act

If you are or have been in a de facto relationship (whether heterosexual or same sex) and separate after 1 March 2009, you will generally have the same rights and responsibilities in Australia as married couples under the Family Law Act 1975 and before the Family Court.

For claims under the Family Law Act 1975, a couple must have been in a de facto relationship living together on a genuine domestic basis for at least 2 years. That 2 year requirement will not apply though if there is a child of the de facto relationship; the party making a claim made substantial contributions to the relationship and serious injustice would be caused if Orders were not or the relationship is or was registered under certain State law.

There are also some residency requirements for claims under the Family Law Act 1975. Parties to the de facto relationship must have been ordinarily resident in any Australian State (other than Western Australia and South Australia) when the relationship broke down or alternatively:

  • either or both parties must have been ordinarily resident in any of those States when an Application for Orders of the Court was made; and
  • both of the parties must have been ordinarily resident in any of those States during at least a third of the relationship or the Applicant for the Orders must have made substantial contributions, of a kind specified in the legislation, in relation to the de facto relationship in one or more of those States.

If you do not qualify to have your property matter heard in the Family Courts, you may qualify to be heard in Queensland under the Property Law Act 1974 or in other States under equivalent legislation.

For more information on de facto relationships and your rights, click here. Or, give our experienced legal team a call today to get tailored legal advice.