The Changing Meaning of De Facto Relationships

Law Book
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Current Family Law, 2006, 12 (2), pp. 82 - 93
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The meaning of "de facto relationship" has changed dramatically in Australian law in recent years. The most obvious changes are the raft of legislative reforms including same-sex couples as de facto couples in a wide array of state laws through 1999-2004. Additionally, an examination of recent case law reveals notable changes to the definition of "de facto relationship" through judicial interpretation, with a distinct trend towards a broader, more flexible interpretation of the de facto category, a less formalistic approach to the indicia of cohabitation, and a lesser focus on the traditional hallmarks that are thought to be "marriage-like" (such as public reputation, mingled finances and putative monogamy). These cases are important signposts as the Family Court will soon be grappling with questions around de facto relationships, including how to determine the existence and duration of a relationship.
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