De Facto Relationships - No strings attached?
You have been seeing someone for a while now and things are starting to get serious. But, at what point does a serious relationship start to impact your rights and ownership of your property and assets?
Many people enter into a de facto relationship, as opposed to a marriage, in order to protect their assets and save themselves from a messy, and costly, breakup. However, it is a common misconception that without a valid marriage certificate your partner has no ties to what's yours.
In reality, de facto partners possess the same property rights to a relationship as a spouse. If there is no agreement reached on how to divide the assets of a de facto relationship upon separation, a de facto partner may make an application to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for a property settlement under the Family Law Act.
A de facto relationship may even still exist even if one of the parties to the relationship is legally married to another, or is in another de facto relationship.
Just as expensive as a Divorce:
It is common for couples who are not married to live together in the same home and be in a de facto relationship for many years – most as long, or even longer, than married couples.
This long-term connection to each other may involve a large asset pool which Courts will take into consideration during proceedings. Judges will consider a couple’s asset pool, how much each party has contributed to the home and relationship, and the future needs of each party in order to determine a just and equitable way to split their assets.
Not all breakups are amicable. This can result in lengthy disputes, unwarranted allegations and court proceedings that can increase the legal costs involved.
No one enters in a relationship and immediately starts preparing for the end; however, it is always a safe idea to have a security blanket prepared in case your relationship goes sour.
It is a good idea to set aside some finances in order to cover any personal contributions such as moving costs and legal fees, in order to ensure you are ready to protect your assets in the instance an amicable agreement at separation cannot be met.
When the De-Facto relationship falls apart
Breakups can be a shock to the system for a lot of people and will sometimes lead to messy disputes between individuals. Ensuring that your financial information is ready and accessible, and obtaining legal advice as soon as there is a legal threat in a de facto dispute, is essential.
If you have decided to leave the home that you share with your de facto partner, you should take all of your original documents with you, in the chance that you may need them throughout the settlement process. Immediately removing your name off any payment plans and separating yourself from joint accounts is also important.
If you believe your relationship may satisfy the definition of de facto under the Family Law Act, and are concerned about the protection of your assets, it is important to seek independent legal advice.
CPC Lawyers have experienced professionals in family law property settlements and can offer peace-of-mind in ensuring your assets remain secure.
Contact us now on (08) 7325 0219.