- De facto relationships are afforded almost identical rights and responsibilities in Australia as couples who choose to marry.
- De facto couples can register their relationships in Australia, however, de facto relationships do not need to be registered in order to be legally recognised.
- Couples in a de facto relationship can face family law matters and challenges such as property settlement and parenting disputes, like married couples.
Can a de facto relationship be legally recognised if one or both partners are still legally married to someone else?
If you’re in a de facto relationship but you or your partner are still legally married, it’s still possible that you’re in a de facto relationship that will be recognised legally.
When a married couple ends their relationship, while a divorce is a common outcome, it’s also quite common for people to separate and not formally end their marriage. This could be due to a lot of reasons including just simply not wanting to complete the process.
This can cause complications if the de facto relationship ends and you wish to make a claim for a property settlement, and we recommend seeking legal advice if you find yourself in this situation.
If you or your de facto partner are married to someone else and you wish to marry one another, then the married party will need to get divorced, otherwise, the married party could be charged with the offence of bigamy. Learn more about bigamy here.
Can a de facto partner change their surname to their partner’s surname?
If you’re in a de facto relationship and you wish to take your partner’s name or they wish to take yours, it is possible.
An application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change your name needs to be made in your state or territory.
How does a de facto relationship affect government benefits and entitlements, like Centrelink payments?
Being in a de facto relationship can have an impact on your eligibility for and/or payment amount if you receive government benefits such as various payments from Centrelink.
If you do receive these types of payments as part of the registration for the payment type, it is likely that you will need to advise your relationship status. If you’re found to be in a relationship and have not disclosed this information, it could result in you being required to repay the benefits you have received.
You can learn more about this on the Services Australia website here.
Can a de facto partner adopt their partner’s child from a previous relationship?
Yes, it is possible for a de facto partner to adopt their partner’s child from a previous relationship, however, adoption is not a simple process and definitely requires legal advice.
Adoption is a legal process that establishes a permanent and legal parent-child relationship between the child and the adoptive parent. To be able to proceed with adoption, certain criteria and procedures must be met and adoption laws may vary between different states and territories – you can learn more about adoption here.
Adoption is a significant legal step and should be approached with careful consideration. Seeking legal advice from a family law professional who specialises in adoption is highly recommended to understand the specific requirements, processes, and implications involved in adopting a partner’s child where you live.
Do de facto partners have the same rights and obligations as couples who were married when it comes to child support?
Child support is not dependent on whether the parents who had the child were married, in a de facto relationship, or not in a relationship at all, when the child was conceived.
Providing for a child financially is the duty of the biological parents of the child.
A person who starts a de facto relationship with a person who already has children does not have a legal obligation to support those children except in special circumstances.