De facto relationships are defined in the Family Law Act 1975 as follows:
“A person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:
  1. the persons are not legally married to each other; and
  2. the persons are not related by family; and
  3. having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.”
Provided a de facto relationship is established, persons involved in a de facto relationship are provided with similar legal rights and entitlements as those enjoyed by married couples. However, specific criteria must be met to be considered in a de facto relationship, such as the duration of cohabitation, shared finances, and public aspects of the relationship.
In the context of de facto relationships, several key entitlements come into play:
  1. Property settlement: Upon the breakdown of a de facto relationship, the assets and liabilities of the partnership may be subject to division between the parties. This can include financial assets acquired prior to the commencement of the relationship, separately owned property, and the respective superannuation entitlements.
  2. Financial support: De facto partners may be entitled to financial support in the form of spousal maintenance if one partner is at a financial disadvantage due to the relationship’s breakdown.
  3. Parental responsibility: In cases where the de facto couple has children, the issues of parental responsibility, parenting arrangements and child support need to be considered.
  4. Superannuation Split: De facto partners may be eligible for a superannuation split as part of a property settlement after separation.
  5. Immigration and Citizenship: A de facto relationship can also be considered when applying for certain immigration and citizenship benefits in Australia.
It is important to note that time limits apply when pursuing a property settlement and/or spousal maintenance after the breakdown of a de facto relationship. Seeking legal advice early can help you understand the relevant timeframes and take appropriate action within the legal parameters.

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