Disclaimer: This is general legal information. For specific advice, please get in touch with Divorce Hub.

These days, a lot of couples move in together before getting married or decide not to get married at all. While it can feel easier, it’s important not to forget the legal implications that your relationship can have and what can happen if you break up.

Of course, it’s not fun to think about breaking up, but if it ever does happen, things can get a little rocky if you are not prepared.
If you live with your partner, it is still important to take steps to protect yourself and your finances in case you ever separate.

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship is when two people in a relationship live together but are not married. It is looked at as a “marriage-like” relationship.

If you are in a de facto relationship, you have a lot of similar rights to those in a married relationship under the Family Law Act.

However, when it comes to the legalities, a lot of the trouble comes when defining the relationship for the purposes of a property settlement.

The Court will have to decide if there was a de facto relationship using the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship (most de facto relationships require a length of 2 years, but this can change if there are children of the relationship or significant contributions to joint property, like a house)
  • The nature and extent you are living together
  • The existence of a sexual relationship
  • Financial dependency
  • The mutual commitment to a shared life
  • How the relationship is seen by others
  • The existence of children in the relationship

It should be noted that not all of these need to be satisfied. They are just factors that point towards a de facto relationship existing.
A lot of these requirements may have to be proven in order for you to make any applications to the Court for a property settlement, child support arrangement, or de facto partner maintenance (like spousal maintenance).

What do we mean by financial preparation when you live with your partner?

Sometimes there are issues when defining a de facto relationship for the purposes of property settlement. In Queensland, some couples decide to register their relationship as a way to legally define the relationship and to help if needed for future legal action. Some people do this to indicate their commitment to each other, but just note that it is legally not the same as a marriage certificate.

By living together, you will eventually share some property, debts, and other responsibilities. If you ever break up, it can get a little fuzzy when defining who gets what. Things can get a little messy.

To save any possible future stress, couples can enter into a Cohabitation Agreement, which is a type of Binding Financial Agreement. This agreement can define all your shared and separate property and how you may divide property in the event of a break up. It can also outline any current responsibilities and expectations you each have during your relationship.

You will need to engage with a lawyer to properly put this agreement together. Having this document can save you from significant future legal deeds and any additional stress from arguing over property as you already have an agreement in place.

What is a Divorce Coach?

A divorce coach is a certified professional who can help you through a divorce or de facto relationship breakup. Separating with your partner can be stressful, with the financial and legal pressure on top of the already emotionally painful experience of breaking up. You need someone by your side.

A divorce coach can help you not just with your break up but how to manage it and the other aspects of your life, your finances, your future and so much more.

“At our family law firm, we recognise that a breakup is more than the legalities so our lawyers work in partnership with certified divorce coaches and other support staff. By supporting you through the emotional challenges of divorce, we assist you to make decisions about your divorce from a rational and calm place. Making smart decisions during your divorce paves the best path towards a brighter, happier future.” Said Jennifer Hetherington, Family Lawyer.