In a recent decision of the Family Court of Western Australia, Justice Crisford ruled that a 14 year arrangement between two parties involving regular intimacy and a shared living space was not a de facto relationship but “in common parlance, they were friends with benefits”.
Whilst there are subtle differences between the Family law jurisdiction in Western Australia and that practiced in the remaining States of Australia, the Family Court is guided by a number of factors in determining whether or not a de facto relationship exists between two parties. In accordance with Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975, the Court has a wide discretion in considering the circumstances of a relationship and in the absence of children, no particular combination of variables are necessarily determinative of a de facto relationship.
This decision highlights the importance of communicating with your partner about financial affairs and defining your respective rights earlier on in your relationship to avoid the rather awkward situation of a third party observer (in this case, a judicial officer) telling you how it really is.
If you are considering moving in with your partner and require assistance in relation to entering into a financial agreement please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law department for a confidential discussion about your options.