Marriage in Australia – What is De Facto?

Current Australian law makes provisions for de facto relationships in the Family Law Act 1875 and its various amendments, which are defined as a relationship in which you and your partner live together as a couple on a “genuine domestic basis”. To be considered a couple, several factors are considered in relation to you and your partner:

Factors Considered Are:

  • Your finances – whether they are joint or separate;
  • Social relationships – are you publicly a couple, are friends and family aware of your relationship?;
  • The nature of your household – who lives in your household, what are the relationships between the people in your household?;
  • The presence or absence of a sexual relationship; and
  • The nature of the commitment between you and your partner – do you intend to build a future together?

You and your partner do not need to meet all of these criteria. Each relationship is considered on a case by case basis, and the relationship is assessed on the whole, instead of as “ticking enough boxes”.

To be considered as a member of a de facto couple, there is no need for a ceremony or to file any paperwork with Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. De facto status is something that is awarded automatically, although you may be asked to provide documentation by other government departments if it is relevant to your interactions with them – for example, applying for Centrelink or Medicare benefits.

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