We are often asked by people as to what is a de facto relationship, when it started and what does it entail.
Unlike married couples who simply have to prove that they are married, the start and end of a de facto relationship is often blurred. There are many different cases each week around the country concerning the existence or otherwise of the de facto relationship. Basically, being in a de facto relationship is in all respects like a "husband/wife type relationship."
A strong, intimate relationship based on mutual intentions and common goals with the sharing of domestic tasks is generally sufficient to qualify as a de facto relationship. Here are some of the most common factors that assist in the Court making a finding that a person is in a de facto relationship:-
- Mixing of funds (for example joint bank accounts);
- Buying property together in joint names;
- Sharing the use of common property purchased together;
- Living under the one roof;
- Spending a substantial amount of time at each other's residence and keeping substantive personal items at each other's residence;
- Holding yourself out as a committed couple to other people including family, friends and the general public i.e. wanting to be seen as an exclusive couple;
- Directly and indirectly supporting each other's children and providing constant emotional support and comfort to each other;
- Regular and daily contact; and
- An exclusive intimate relationship.
To the contrary, there are many factors that point to the non-existence of a de facto relationship, and are relied upon to prove that there was no de facto relationship. Some of the factors include:-
- Maintaining separate households – not living together under the one roof;
- Not conducting joint bank accounts and not buying or holding property together;
- Not maintaining exclusivity in the relationship – having other partners and relationships;
- Not holding each other out as a committed couple – in other words keeping the affair or relationship secret from others and intentionally doing so;
- A lack of involvement in each other one's extended family;
- A lack of shared mutual commitment to each other; and
- Strong and close friendship – often, there are cases where parties display the traits of strong and close friendship. This may be looking after another party when they are injured and providing sympathy and support to them as a friend – in those situations the Court often finds that the person is a "friend" rather than a de facto.