My de facto relationship of two years has ended. Is my ex now entitled to half my assets and joint custody of our young child?
For your partner to make a claim against your assets, he/she must first establish that you were in a de facto relationship. The Family Law Act 1975 sets out 3 possible ways a de facto relationship can be found to exist.
Firstly, if you have lived together on a “genuine domestic basis” for two years or more, and are not married. It can sometimes be contentious when a de facto relationship starts because, unlike marriages, there is no official paperwork verifying its commencement. Other proof such as leases, social media posts, and third-party evidence may be helpful if there is doubt over the start/end date.
Alternatively, a Court can find that de facto relationship exists because you have a child together, or if one of you has made a substantial and significant contribution to the relationship.
While de facto couples are treated almost identically to married couples under the Family Law Act, being in a de facto relationship does not mean that your ex is automatically entitled to half your assets. Financial issues are resolved by considering factors such as financial and non-financial contributions, and future needs. Each case is assessed on its own merits.
Similarly, while there is a rebuttable presumption under the Act that parents have equal shared parental responsibility, family violence and safety concerns can rebut that, and care arrangements are determined with the child’s best interest as the paramount consideration. With a child under 2 years old, it is unlikely that a Court will find that equal time with both parents will be in the child’s best interest, although that might be possible when the child is older.
A Scammell & Co family lawyer can advise you on the best way forward and what to expect on financial and care arrangements. We can assist you with negotiations, and draft financial and parenting agreements. If no agreement can be reached or is practicable, we can also assist you with the last resort option of Court proceedings.
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