3 things to consider when in a de facto relationship.

by rodney on July 29, 2013

defacto relationshipWith marriages on the decline in recent years, more and more people are entering into de facto relationships. Simply speaking, a de facto relationship is one where a couple lives together but are not married.

It sounds simple but there is so much more to these unions that still causes much confusion, such as legal requirements, financial issues even same sex status. These issues make it unclear on what exactly constitutes a de facto relationship and as a result, people are unaware of their rights and obligations.

To give you some clarity, I’ve compiled a list of 3 key things you need to consider and how you gain clarity on your situation.


The first thing you need to consider are the legal aspects of your relationship.  Not just your legal rights now, but what are your rights and obligations if you were to end the relationship. One of the first things a court will attempt to decide in any legal matters is whether a de facto relationship exists. In doing that they will take into consideration such things as how long you have lived together, if the relationship is sexual, who owns property, whether you mingle your finances, if you have children and who looks after them and even whether other people see you as a couple.

One of the biggest legal issues when people are in a de facto relationship is that of next of kin. If you were to be injured and unable to make any decisions, who would be your legal power of attorney? This could become a very messy issue without clear instructions on what you want.

To gain clarity over these legal issues, you will need to consult a family law specialist. They will be able to help define your relationship in a legal sense and inform you of your obligations and rights. While you’re there, consider having a will drawn up and in it clearly define who happens if you were to die or become incapacitated.


Financial issues are another big issue that causes headaches for de facto couples. Questions such as what happens with our finances, who is responsible for what, who contributes to what and especially how money is divided if the relationship were to end are all questions couples find hard to ask and often have no clarity around.

You gain clarity around these issues by seeking advice from an accountant and/or a financial planner to talk about goals and plans around finances. With proper plans in place you can then add these to the legal documents you draw up with your lawyer.

The future

It’s amazing how many people don’t consider the future, especially when it comes to relationships. If you’re unclear about the future as a de facto couple, you can find yourself in all sorts of trouble later on if your expectations are not met.

You gain clarity on the future by seeking help from a professional counsellor and answering such questions as Is this relationship going to remain a de facto or is there an expectation of marriage later on? What are my goals for the future and does our relationship fit into those? What do I expect of my partner in our relationship?

People often complain that relationships are difficult; I maintain that it is people who make them difficult. By seeking the right help, asking the questions and getting the right answers, you can add clarity to your relationship and make as simple as possible.

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