De Facto Relationships

Due to the significant difference in the legal effect of marriages compared to de facto relationships, it is critical to be properly informed about the legal implications of any non-married close personal relationship.


A de facto relationship in most definitions include a relationship between:

  • two adults (over the age of 18 years);
  • who are not legally married to each other; and
  • are not related by family; and
  • having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

Under current law, individuals leaving an unsuccessful de facto relationship can pursue property settlements in the same way as separating married couples lying on the same law and Court systems (excluding Western Australia). This extends to same sex de facto couples.

Can de facto couples reach agreement about financial and property related matters?

The law, as it currently stands, permits de facto couples to reach agreement about property and financial issues upon relationship breakdown. The presence of a financial agreement is encouraged due to the fact that the legal implications arising from the absence of an agreement can be significant and unexpected.