If you are over the age of 18 and live together in a “marriage like” way, then your relationship may be recognised as a “de facto relationship”. This includes same sex couples.
The family law process in Western Australia now enables most couples in same sex relationships to access an equivalent range of solutions in the Family Court in respect to financial matters to those presently available to married and de facto couples.
When separating from a de facto partner, a common problem is how to divide the assets accumulated during the relationship. In Western Australia, the law for de facto asset division is similar to that of married couples, except in respect of superannuation.
Formalising the division of assets is achieved by way of consent Orders, Orders of the Family Court or by a binding financial agreement.
In order to start proceedings for property settlement, you must be able to show that:
- You have been in a de facto relationship for at least two years; or
- There is a child to the relationship under 18 years, and failure to make a property settlement order would cause a serious injustice to the person caring for the child; or
- The person applying for the order made substantial financial and/or non-financial contributions to the relationship and failure to make a property settlement order would cause serious injustice to that person;
- One or both of the parties to the application must be resident in Western Australia the day the application is made; or
- Both parties have to reside in Western Australia for one third of their relationship, or made substantial contributions to property in this State.
Any application for property settlement has to be made no later than 2 years after the date of your separation.
On 9 December 2017, amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 came into effect to change the definition of “marriage”. The definition of marriage became gender neutral, being “the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. As a result of the amendments, same sex couples are now able to be married (and have their marriage recognised) in Australia.
It is important that obtain comprehensive legal advice in respect of your entitlements and responsibilities when your relationship breaks down. Please contact our office on (08) 9355 0776 to discuss your matter with one of our solicitors.