When are you in a de facto relationship? | Property Settlement Lawyers Brisbane

In a recent decision of Cuan & Kostelac [2017] Fam CAFC 188, the Full Court dismissed with costs an appeal made by a “fly in fly out worker” against a declaration that she was in a de facto relationship.

Ms Cuan argued that she and Mr Kostelac were never de facto partners and that whilst she lived at Mr Kostelac’s home in a certain town for purpose of her work, she was a fly in fly out worker  who travelled to live with her children in another city for two weeks after each six week block of work in Mr Kostelac’s home town.

Ms Cuan said she lived in Mr Kostelac’s home rent free in exchange for her looking after Mr Kostelac, performing housekeeping duties and helping him to manage finances.  She argued that when they had travelled overseas together between 2010 and 2014, they had done so as friends only.

The trial judge found that the parties had lived together in a de facto relationship for a certain period between 2007 and 2010 and gave Mr. Kostelac leave to issue property proceedings.

Dispute Resolution

The Full Court noted that the trial judge had found that there was a de facto relationship taking into account the following considerations:

  • The parties had shared a “common residence” in the town where Mr. Kostelac lived;
  • The parties had a sexual relationship when they were in the town where Mr. Kostelac lived;
  • There had been an intermingling of the parties’ funds. Ms. Cuan had authority to operate Mr. Kostelac’s accounts and there had been some $93,000 which had been transferred from his accounts to her accounts which had been applied in reduction of the amount owing on mortgages over properties that Ms Cuan owned;
  • Whilst the parties had stated in separate rooms, they had travelled overseas together;
  • People in the hometown of Mr. Kostelac considered that the parties were a couple.

The Full Court of the Family Court found that if the finding of a de facto relationship is open on the evidence, then the Full Court will not identify any error in such a finding made by a trial judge, even whee other judges may have taken a different view and not found that a de facto relationship existed.

There is no specific formula that is applied by the Courts when considering if a couple were in a de facto relationship. Each case is decided on its merits.

Property Settlement Lawyers Brisbane

If you need advice concerning the status of your relationship at law or regards your entitlement for the division of property with your former partner, contact our family lawyers at GM Family Law and we will be happy to assist you to resolve your family law issues.