Did you know that you may be in a de facto relationship without realising it?
Just because two people keep their own separate residences does not mean that you may not be considered to be in a de facto relationship according to the law.
There are a range of factors that can mean you may be in a de facto relationship...such as a shared bank account, representing to the outside world that you are a couple, a sexual relationship, common financial endeavours, the fact that you have children together. It should be stressed that not one fact is conclusive but the court looks at a range of these issues and takes an overall view to make its determination.
The significance of whether you are a de facto or not is not one to be overlooked, as it gives you rights under the Family Law Act to make a claim in the event of separation against the other partner. It also can give you rights to inherit part of their estate under the Succession Act, give you rights to claim as a spouse under Commonwealth Social Security Law, and even for Workers Compensation if your partner dies due to a work injury.
To understand if you are in a de facto relationship, the factors that are relevant to the Courts are the duration of the relationship and the nature and extent of the mutual commitment to a shared life together. If you are in a de facto relationship, or are unsure if you are, you can seek legal advice and you can take steps to protect your own assets that you may bring to the relationship, just in case it breaks down. A lawyer can draft an agreement (sometimes called a Binding Financial Agreement) that can be very useful to protect your assets, as well as considering your Will and any other important documents that can be used to ensure that you are protected.