How do I prove a de facto relationship? 

prove a de facto relationship

By cropped Clara Suki

· Read time: 4 minutes

Proving the existence of a de facto relationship is important if you and your partner have matters that you believe should be dealt with in Court. To prove the existence of your de facto relationship, you will need to satisfy certain requirements under the Family Law Act 1975.

These requirements pertain to certain elements of your relationship and include the duration of the relationship, living arrangements, and matters regarding property and children. 

As the law now provides that de facto couples have the same rights as married couples, you can apply to the Family Court if you believe that you are entitled to any financial remedies.

However, de facto relationships are not as easily recognised by the law as marriages are, and hence the first step will always involve proving that you are or were in a de facto relationship. 

De facto relationships under the Family Law Act

Section 4AA of the Family Law Act provides the requirements for establishing a de facto relationship. The first two requirements are: 

  1. That the persons are not legally married to each other; and 
  2. That the persons are not related by family 

The third requirement is more contentious and harder to satisfy. It provides: 

  1. That the persons have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis

Subsection 2 under 4AA provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that can be taken into account to determine whether this third requirement is satisfied. These nine considerations are listed below: 

  1. The duration of the relationship
  2. The nature and extent of the common residence
  3. Whether the relationship was sexual 
  4. The degree of financial dependence or interdependence between the parties and any arrangements for financial support 
  5. The ownership, use and acquisition of property
  6. The extent to which there was a mutual commitment to a shared life
  7. Whether the relationship is registered under a State or Territory Register
  8. The care and support of children 
  9. The way in which the relationship was portrayed to the public 

It is important to note here that not all of these considerations have to be taken into account. For example, the consideration of caring for children will be irrelevant for de facto couples that do not have these circumstances. This will not mean that not having children will make it more difficult to prove that a de facto relationship exists. The law has provided that the Court will have regard to each consideration as it sees fit and will endeavour to provide for each couple’s individual circumstances. 

Courts determining questions of the existence of a de facto relationship have emphasised the importance of looking at the relationship as a whole. This highlights the reality that there are many diverse representations of what a de facto couple could look like. Courts have also held regard to evidence of doing domestic or household activities in determining whether such a relationship exists. 

Jurisdictional requirements for de facto relationships 

A party will also have to satisfy certain requirements to prove that the Court has jurisdiction to hear their matter. This is seen in section 90 in the Family Law Act 1975. The law requires that one of the four criteria are satisfied: 

  1. The relationship lasted for a total of two years, but this period does not have to be continuous
  2. There is a child of the relationship
  3. The party seeking relief made contributions to the relationship and it would cause a serious injustice if relief is not granted
  4. The relationship was registered under a State or Territory

The NSW Relationship Register

It is notable that registering your de facto relationship on the NSW Relationship Register will make proving the existence of your relationship a lot easier. Registering your relationship will mean that your de facto relationship is recognised by law. This will likely make it easier for you to gain access to legal and government services. 

If you need any assistance ending your registered relationship, please feel free to reach us

Book a free 15 minute call

Contact us for an obligation-free, 100% confidential chat.

Book a call

Need help with your separation?

Our separation packages make the process easier and more affordable.

Book a call