Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 21 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.
Our lives move through many different stages and are constantly evolving and changing. The breakdown of a relationship can be a stage that evokes many strong emotions and often causes grief and anxiety. This is particularly the case when children are involved.
Our goal with clients is to provide a service that not only supports them in understanding the legal process but also puts them in contact with local professionals who can assist them to keep afloat other areas of their lives during this difficult time.
While this column will regularly feature legal topics of interest, there will also be input from a range of experts from psychologists to financial planners and nutritionist to personal trainers.
They will provide handy tips and guidance to assist anyone travelling this journey to make sure that during its course they look after their emotional, financial and physical health as well.
Today's legal topic is about a subject that can create confusion and is often misunderstood - de facto relationships.
Under the Family Law Act, you and your partner may be considered to be in such a relationship if you are not married or related and you live together on a genuine domestic basis.
Since 2009 de facto couples may apply to the Family Law Courts to resolve their financial matters.
The fact that some couples may maintain separate residences but still have regular time staying over at each other's houses doesn't automatically mean that they are not in a de facto relationship.
The court will look at a number of circumstances to determine whether a relationship exists, including whether your finances and other property are shared and also the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
If you are held to be in a de facto relationship under what circumstances can either party make a claim against the other:
- Where the period or total periods of the relationship was at least 2 years; or
- There is a child of the marriage; or
- The person bringing the claim made substantial contributions to the property and it would result in a serious injustice if an order was not made.
The time period for bringing the application in the court for these type of claims is two years from the end of the relationship.
Obtaining early advice about your situation may help you to resolve matters with your former partner sooner rather than later.