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“Delays in the family law system, just one of a host of problems facing parents like Christine, are now considered the norm. The courts are groaning under a backlog of more than 20,000 cases and lawyers in Sydney are advising clients that cases filed in the Federal Circuit Court today will not get a hearing date until 2020.”

 

Sydney Morning Herald August 19 2018

What is a De Facto Relationship?

Simply put, in Australia, de facto relationships are recognised by law. Such a relationship is defined as two people who are not married, aren’t related to each other, who choose to live with each other and have a relationship likened to what marriage would look like.

If you reside in any state or territory in Australia (except WA), the applicable law governing your de facto relationship entitlements is the Family Law Act.

Legal standing for such a relationship is activated following a two-year period of which the marriage-like relationship exists. This relationship can also be a same-sex relationship.

So, What About Property Settlements for De Facto Couples?

De Facto couples are given the same legal rights as married couples in respect to the division of property.

What is the Starting Point to Consider a Property Settlement?

The first step is always to fully assess all assets, including superannuation and the liabilities of the couple. Depending upon the complexity of the assessment of the full financial position of the couple, accountants may be required. This is particularly the case if the couple owns a business or multiple properties or generally have complex structures that need to be teased out.

Can Mediation Take Care of All This?

Under the Family Law Act, if you’re a de facto couple separating, a Separation Agreement (also known as a Binding Financial Agreement) can help considerably in settling the property settlement mediation. A Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract, enforceable under Australian law, which stipulates how each of you agree to divide the assets and liabilities. This can be negotiated and agreed using Mediations Australia mediators.

What About Other Matters Like Parenting & Children?

The same rules apply as they do to a married couple who have separated. At the outset, it does not matter whether the child or children are born within or outside of the de facto relationship. All children have the same standing under the Family Law Act. More specifically, pursuant to Australian law, a child is considered to be the child of a person who has, or had, a de facto partner, if the child is a child of both that person and the person’s de facto partner; or the child is adopted by the person and the person’s de facto partner or by either of them with the consent of the other; or the child is a child of both that person and the person’s de facto partner born as a result of artificial conception or under surrogacy arrangements. Accordingly, your objective in relation to your child or children is to negotiate and agree what is in the best interests of the child. In this context, reaching an agreement with your ex-partner and having that agreement authorised by the Court and in turn, becoming what we call a Consent Order should be your number one goal. This will ensure, that in the event of any contravention of that order, you’re able to return to Court for their intervention. At Mediations Australia, we will work with you and your ex-partner reach an agreement that you’re both happy with, then have that agreement signed off by the court, ensuring what was agree becomes binding into the future or until such time, circumstances change, requiring amendments to that agreement.

What Should I Do Now?

Family law mediation at Mediations Australia, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation. We can assist you in mapping the path ahead, negotiating and reaching an agreement and having that agreement endorsed by the Court.
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