Q: Will I have a claim for property settlement following the breakdown of my relationship?
This is an important question and particularly where you have not been married to your former partner.
We have seen in last week’s blog that the Court may only make an order dividing property where the persons affected are not married, after the breakdown of a de facto relationship.
In order for a relationship to qualify as a de facto relationship at law, not only must the parties not be married or related by family, they must be a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis, having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship.
The term “genuine domestic basis” is not a term of art but is to be given its ordinary meaning.
We outlined for you in our blog last week some of the factors or circumstances that will be of relevance where a court is determining if a de facto relationship existed.
It is not necessary that any particular circumstance is found in order to determine that a relationship is a de facto relationship. The Court may have regard to any matters that seem appropriate to the Court in the circumstances of a particular relationship and may attach what weight (or importance) that the Court considers appropriate to any particular circumstance.
The Family Court of Australia in a decision in 2011 has said that for a de facto relationship to be found to have occurred, there must be the manifestation of “coupledom”, which involves the merger of two lives.
The Court found that a continuing cohabitation in a common residence is not necessary to establish the continuation of a “de facto relationship”, at least where the parties have lived together and have not effected a permanent separation. Nevertheless, the definition of “de facto relationship” suggests that, usually, the parties should have, at some stage, been “living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis”.
The Court took the view that the fact that the parties have never lived together in a common residence was an indication that they have not “lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis”. The Court considered that that indication would be “especially significant where parties have not shared the common burden of maintaining a household”.
The fact that one or both of the people involved may have at some stage intended eventually to marry would not in itself lead to a conclusion that they were involved in a de facto relationship.
The Court considered that there must have been a manifestation of a relationship where “the parties have so merged their lives that they were, for all practical purposes, ‘living together’ as a couple on a genuine domestic basis”.
In next week’s blog, we will look at some examples of relationships where the Court has found that a de facto relationship did not exist. Remember, it is very important to know whether or not you are or have been in a de facto relationship. Unless you have been, you will not have a claim for property settlement following the breakdown of the relationship.
Contact us for advice whether your relationship is likely to be considered a de facto relationship at law and what is your likely entitlement for the division of the net assets that you and your former partner hold, whether together or in your separate names.
Our experienced team of Family Lawyers Brisbane, can offer you tailored legal advice, to help you move forward in life. Give us a call today to receive a FREE 15-minute consultation.