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De facto Relationships

The Family Court Act 1997 legislation changed on 1 December 2002 to provide equity and access for all Western Australians in all family matters, including de facto relationships.

Child Issues

Parties who separated from a de facto relationship, regardless of the date of separation, are able to access the Family Court of Western Australia for children's matters under the provisions of the Family Court Act 1997. 

Property Issues

Parties who separated from a de facto relationship after 1 December 2002 are able to access the Family Court of Western Australia for property matters under the provisions of the Family Court Act 1997. 

Parties who separated from a de facto relationship before 1 December 2002 are unable to access the Family Court of Western Australia for property disputes and must seek legal advice as to their options.

What determines a de facto relationship?

The following factors set out in s 13A of the Interpretation Act 1984 are used to determine whether a de facto relationship exists between two people, but not all factors are essential:

  • The length of the relationship between them
  • Whether they lived in the same residence
  • The nature and extent of their common residence
  • Whether there is, or has been, a sexual realtionship between them 
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them
  • The ownership, use and purchase of their property (including property they own individually)
  • The degree of mutual commitment by them to a shared life
  • Whether they care for and support children, and
  • How their relationship as a couple is perceived by others

It does not matter whether:

  • The people are of different sexes or of the same sex, or
  • Either person is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship.

Last updated: 13-Sep-2013

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