Perth Family Law: Property Settlement in a De Facto Relationship

The Family Court of Western Australia can have the power to make orders about how the assets and liabilities of a de facto relationship in Perth, Western Australia may be divided between a de facto couple at the end of their relationship.

They can have this power if they have the jurisdiction.

There are many factors that determine if the Family Court might have jurisdiction in your de facto family law case.

 In some cases, the other side (that is your de facto husband or wife) may try to have your application for property settlement dismissed arguing that The Family Court of Western Australia does not have the power or jurisdiction to deal with the case. 

They may say there was no de facto relationship at all.

They could argue that the date of separation is much earlier than what you know it to be.

They may say you are out of time as the application was filed more than two years after the date of separation.

Naturally, you may be able to file an application for the leave of the court to proceed out of time and you should seek very specific legal advice about this.

Further, your de facto partner may argue that you separated before the date that you consider to be the date of separation which may make time and delay even more important.

Considerations of The Court

Family law enables the court to change the amount that de facto partners are entitled to, in a similar way they would a traditionally married couple.

The court may consider, amongst other things:

  1. The financial contributions made by the parties in relation to any property owned; and
  2. The non-financial contributions made by the parties in relation to any property owned; and
  3. The contributions made by the parties to the welfare of the family, including in the capacity of homemaker or parent; and
  4. The effect of any order on the parties’ future earning capacity.

The length of a de facto relationship is important in a property settlement. However, the court will consider other factors when deciding upon property settlement and spouse maintenance.

In Perth Family Law, the court at least considers:

  1. the length of the relationship,
  2. whether the couple has children,
  3. whether the parties lived together,
  4. and whether the parties jointly owned property or shared bank accounts.

The fact of being in a de facto partnership for over a decade doesn’t always safeguard a partner. Your property settlement and access to spousal maintenance are unique to your situation.

You need to file for property settlement or spousal maintenance in court within two years of separation.

Perth Property Settlement

Before Your First Appointment

It is important that you know what you are entitled to when your de facto relationship is over and you are separating,  have separated, or are contemplating separation.

Most importantly it provides our Family Lawyers in Perth with the opportunity to know about your de facto family law matter before your first appointment.

Our Legal Practitioner Director and/or Associates carefully read the background that you have prepared before your Perth family law appointment with us and undertake any necessary research on the most recent de facto family law as it relates to your unique facts.

The law is different in each de facto Perth family law case depending on your facts.

When deciding what to write in your background email we tell our clients to write whatever they would like to tell us in their first appointment/s.

You may like to provide the following information before your appointment –

  • What date did you start living together?
  • What date might your de facto partner say you started living together?
  • What date did you separate?
  • What date might your de facto partner say you separated?
  • What assets and liabilities did you both have on the date that you started living together?
  • What assets and liabilities did you both have at the date that you separated?
  • What superannuation did/do you both have at the date you started living together, at the date of separation and as of today’s date?
  • What financial contributions did you both make during the de facto relationship and after the de facto relationship if relevant?
  • Did you have children together or did either of you have children from a previous relationship that were cared for by you?
  • What are your current, respective salaries?
  • Do either of you have any health concerns or are there facts that affect your future earnings?
  • What were the features of your relationship that you say shows that you were in a de facto relationship?

If you have documents to support any of this information, they may also be relevant

Case Study: De Facto Property Settlement in A Long Relationship

A recent 2016 case involved a couple who had a 27-year relationship. Despite this, the court found that it would not be ‘just and equitable, i.e., ‘fair’ to make an order to alter the property interests of the parties. This was due to the following reasons:

  • There were no children of the relationship
  • Although cohabiting, each party owned their own property (house)
  • Each party had made non-financial contributions to the other’s house by way of renovations
  • The parties had kept separate finances throughout the entirety of the relationship

De facto financial matters can be very complex. Are you considering separation, or have you separated from your de facto partner?

De facto law can turn on its own very specific set of facts. Each case is different, and the law can change frequently.

Contact Shannon Bodeker and her experienced team of Family Lawyers in Perth today for more information!

This blog is not legal advice.

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