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Defacto Relationship

Team Leader

Chrissy Dawson

Special Counsel

Gail Sherlock


Contact Details


Phone: +61 2 9267 7311   

Interviews by arrangement at:

Sydney CBD

370 Pitt Street

North Shore Office


North Shore Interviews

Central Coast Office


Interviews can be arranged at our Sydney, Chatswood, Hornsby or Central Coast offices.


We recommend you see Family Counselling. Counselling can help couples and children come to terms with changes during the breakup of a relationship. If you don't seek counselling yourself, the Court can order your and your partner to see a family counselor to attempt to resolve differences about the care, welfare and development of your children. 

De facto relationships 

Definition of a de facto relationship? A de facto relationship is defined in Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975. The law requires that you and your former partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, had a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. However, your relationship is not a de facto relationship if you were legally married to one another or if you are related by family. 

Children Matters 

Can I apply to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court to have my de facto dispute determined if it's about my children? Yes. The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court deal with issues related to the children of de facto relationships in the same way as the children of married couples.  

Financial Matters 

Can I apply to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court to have my de facto financial dispute determined? Yes. From 1 March 2009, parties to an eligible de facto relationship which has broken down can apply to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court to have financial matters determined in the same way as married couples. You must apply for de facto financial orders within two years of the breakdown of your relationship. After this time you need the Court's permission to apply. 

Examples of financial matters include the adjustment of property interests or maintenance of a party to the de facto relationship. According to the Australian Family Courts before the Court can determine your financial dispute, you must satisfy the Court of all of the following:

  • you were in a genuine de facto relationship with your former partner which has broken down

  • you meet one of four gateway criteria

  • you have a geographical connection to a participating jurisdiction

  • your relationship broke down after 1 March 2009 (or after 1 July 2010 if you have a geographical connection to South Australia only); although you may be able to apply to the Courts if your relationship broke down prior to the date applicable to your state.

You should obtain legal advice about whether your circumstances satisfy the criteria before filing an application.  

For more information contact us to arrange for a consultation.

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