A member asked over 7 years ago

Defacto assets

What are the rights of a defacto relationship in terms of assets? I've been in a defacto relationship for 9 years. My partner is looking into separating. He has a lot of money/assets but I don't have anything I own. In short, I am penniless. My worry is, how am I going to start without anything? Could I at least claim something from him, given that we've lived together for 9 years? Please help. This is what's making me stay in this relationship. I've got nowhere to go after this.

Law Advisor Research Team
Researchers at LawAdvisor

Hi there. The laws that apply to married couples who are separating or divorcing also apply to de facto couples who have been together for at least two years.

Whether you are in a ‘de facto’ relationship in the eyes of the law will depend on all circumstances of your relationship. This includes the duration of your relationship, whether you lived together, whether a sexual relationship existed, the degree of dependence on one another, any agreements for financial support, the shared ownership or use of property, the degree of commitment to a life together, whether the relationship is legally registered, the care and support of any children, and public aspects of your relationship.

When a married or de facto couple separates, the parties are free to reach an agreement on how their assets will be divided between them. If the parties can reach an agreement, there is no need to go to court. However, the parties can apply to court if they want to make the agreement binding, or if the parties disagree on how to divide their property.

Based on the information you provided, you are likely to be entitled to a share in the assets of your relationship. The law recognises not only financial contributions, but also non-financial contributions as a homemaker or parent. The proportion of your share will depend on many factors. The law will ordinarily regard the parties' contributions as approximately equal, especially in long term relationships, unless there is evidence that suggests the parties did not intend ownership to be shared equally. If the matter proceeds to court, the court will also consider each party's financial needs relative to their earning capacity. This means that if you are in greater and legitimate financial need, the court will shift the balance for division in your favour.

Suggested way forward

Separation is a difficult experience, and the law will divide your pooled assets in accordance with principles of overall fairness. For more general information on property division for de facto couples, see the Family Court website (www.familycourt.gov.au). You would benefit from speaking to a family lawyer to help you understand your legal rights and to negotiate on your behalf. By pressing the “Consult a Lawyer” button, LawAdvisor can help you search for experienced lawyers and obtain fee proposals for their services. Costs for legal advice and representation will vary between providers based on experience and the scope of services.

Answered over 7 years ago   Legal disclaimer

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