In Western Australia, the Family Court of Western Australia determines property settlement proceedings, child related proceedings and child support proceedings arising from De-Facto relationships.
To determine whether a de-facto relationship exists, the Court considers a range of factors such as:
- the length of the relationship between the parties.
- the nature and extent of their common residence.
- the degree of financial dependence or interdependence.
- the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life.
- the ownership use and purchase of property by them.
- whether they have a child of the relationship, or whether they support any children.
There are common misconceptions about what constitutes a de-facto relationship, one of which is that a couple must have been living together for two or more years. The specific factors which may be relevant to determine whether a de-facto relationship exists for one couple, may not be relevant when the question is considered for another.
An application for property settlement between de-facto couples must be brought within 2 years from the date of separation. If separation occurred more than 2 years ago, leave must be sought from the Family Court to commence proceedings out of time, and the Family Court has discretion to grant, or refuse, leave depending on a number of factors which must be addressed.
In relation to child related matters, parties who have separated from a de-facto relationship are able to access the Family Court of Western Australia for children’s matters, regardless of the date of separation.