What is a de facto relationship?

De facto relationships in Queensland are defined by the Family Law Act. You are considered to be in a de facto relationship if you and another person (of the opposite or same sex) are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis and are not related by family nor legally married.

When considering whether you are living together on a genuine domestic basis, the court considers factors such as:

  • the duration of the relationship;
  • the nature and extent of your common residence;
  • whether a sexual relationship exists;
  • the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between you;
  • the ownership, use and acquisition of property;
  • the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • whether you registered the relationship under a prescribed law of a State or Territory;
  • the care and support of children; and
  • the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

The Court does not give particular weight to any one of the above factors when considering your relationship. The Court considers them all and makes a determination as to whether a de facto relationship existed. In the majority of cases, it is clear a de facto relationship existed and neither party disputes that fact, so a determination is not necessary.

If you are in a de facto relationship, the Court can then consider whether it is appropriate to make an order for maintenance or an order for a property settlement. Importantly, many people are not aware of the circumstances that entitle their de facto partner to make an application for either maintenance or a property settlement.

If you have separated and you and your former partner lived together for more than two years, have a child, own joint property or have made contributions to property in one person’s name, it is important you seek legal advice before the limitation period expires (2 years from separation).

If you are concerned about arrangements for care of your children (often referred to as custody) following the breakdown of your relationship, please read further information on our website about care of children and child support.

If you would like to discuss your rights following the breakdown of your de facto relationship, please contact us.


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