What Rights Do I Have When I Separate From My Partner?


If parties to a de facto relatonship separate then each party may have a right to the following:

  • Property Settlement – This is how the assets, debts and supeannuation of the parties are divided; or
  • Spousal Maintenance – This is financial support provided by one party to the other to help the other pay their weekly expenses when they are not able to do so.

When can a party to a de facto relationship ask the court for an order for property settlement or spousal maintenance after separation?

There are strict requirements that must be satisfied before a party to a de facto relationship can ask the Court to make an order for property settlement or spousal maintenance after separation.

These requirements are:

    • The parties were in a de facto relationship and that relationship has ended;
    • Either:
      • The de facto relationship was for at least 2 years;

OR

  • If the de facto relationship was less than 2 years then:
    • The party who wants an order has made a substantial contribution; and
    • To not make an order would result in serious injustice to the party applying for an order;

OR

  • There is a child of the de facto relationship;

OR

  • The de facto relationship is registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory;
  • That the parties were living in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia or Tasmania (“the participating States”) when they separated;

OR

  • either of the parties were living in Victoria or another participating State when Court proceedings were started;

AND

Either:

  • The parties lived at least a 1/3 of the de facto relationship in Victoria or any other participating State;

OR

  • The party who started the proceedings for an order has made a substantial contribution in relation to the de facto relationship.

If the relationship meets the 3 requirements set out above then a party may be able to obtain an order for property settlement or spousal maintenance.

The requirements to even consider commencing Court proceedings for property settlement or spousal maintenance arising from the breakdown of a de facto relationship are complicated, therefore it is important that parties to a separation receive advice from a qualified family lawyer.

WHERE TO NEXT?

Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?

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