Queensland caught up with most other Australian States on 19 December 1999 by introducing a law (The Property Law Amendment Act 1999) that dealt with unwedded partners, including same sex.

The law virtually mirrored the Family Law Act 1975 in that it dealt with existing property and took into account contributions to that property of a financial and non-financial nature and to the family unit, and also financial resources, eg superannuation, life assurance etc. of the “partners”. Parties could then agree to a division of the relevant property or one of the State Courts could Order the division where agreement is not reached. But remember that the Property Law Act was focused on financial issues and accordingly, unlike Family Law, little credit was given for non-financial contributions.

At the time there were some provisions unique to this new law-

  • A de facto relationship existed when an unwed couple lived together on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship based on intimacy, trust and personal commitment to each other.
  • The Court had jurisdiction to Order a division of property only if the couple had cohabited for at least 2 years or there was a child under 18 years old or there would be a serious injustice to a partner who had made substantial contributions.
  • The Application to a Court needed to be made within 2 years after the relationship ended or special permission based on hardship extended that time.
  • Parties could make a Cohabitation Agreement and/or a Separation Agreement both of which may deal with financial matters and could also make a Recognised Agreement which was a Cohabitation/Separation Agreement that did contain a statement of all significant property, financial resources and liabilities of each party. A Court was required not to make any Order inconsistent with the financial matters contained in a Recognised Agreement.
  • The Supreme and District Courts could make Declarations as to whether or not a defacto relationship existed. Such Declarations could then be used in all Courts for all purposes.

But that is all now past history for the States gave over this area of law to the Commonwealth and it was incorporated into the Family Law Act 1975. So that law now applies – no longer any discrimination between relationships. Consider entering a Binding Financial Agreement prior to or after the commencement of a de facto relationship, and also after the end of such a relationship because it is less stressful and very much cheaper than Court proceedings. If the worst happens, just then follow the formula already agreed upon in the BFA.

De facto relationships now depend upon the duration of the relationship, the nature and extent of the common residence, whether a sexual relationship exists, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, arrangements for financial support, ownership use and acquisition of property, the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life, whether the relationship is or was registered under a State law, the care and support of children, and the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

Consult this legal firm with nearly half a century of knowledge and experience first and get it right!

Need help with the law?

Whether or not you already have a problem or just need advice about de facto relationships, or have an enquiry about any legal matter, contact G. R. Brown Solicitor and Notary Public between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday by visiting the office at Suite 5, Sandgate Arcade, cnr Brighton Road and Second Avenue, Sandgate, Qld 4017 or by telephoning on 07 3269 8511 or emailing grb@grbrown.com.au .

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G R Brown - Solicitor & Notary
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SandgateQLD  4017

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