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De facto relationships in Australia

De facto relationships in Australia are governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), with the exception of Western Australia, which is covered by the Family Court Act 1997 .

So the first question to consider is whether you live in Western Australia or not?

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If you’re not sure whether you’re in a de facto relationship, the legislation defines it like this:

A person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:-

  • the persons are not legally married to each other; and
  • the persons are not related by family;
  • having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

For the purposes of this Act:

  • a de facto relationship can exist between 2 persons of different sexes and between 2 persons of the same gender; and
  • a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship.

For a full definition go to Section 4AA of the Family Law Act, or section 13A of the Interpretation Act, 1984 WA if you are in Western Australia.