If you’ve been living together for at least two years or there is a child of the relationship, the Court has the power to make an order for property settlement between you and your partner. What happens in situations where a relationship does not last for two years and there are no children? The Court does have the power to make an order for property settlement where one party of the relationship makes a substantial contribution or the relationship was registered.
In summary, in order for the Court to be seized of the matter, and for the Act to apply, an applicant must satisfy the Court that one of four possible gateway requirements are satisfied:
- That the period, or the total of the periods, of the de facto relationship is at least 2 years; or
- That there is a child of the de facto relationship; or
- The party to the de facto relationship who applies for the order or declaration made substantial contributions; and
- A failure to make the order or declaration would result in serious injustice to the applicant; or
- That the applicant is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory
Matters can be complicated in short relationships when assessing whether substantial contributions have been made. This term “substantial contributions” refers to both financial and non-financial contributions. For example, a financial contribution could be the purchase of a house in the name of a party to a de facto relationship, where the other party has paid the deposit on the property. The party who paid the deposit is likely to be considered to have made a substantial contribution and therefore is able to make an application for property settlement even if the de facto relationship was of less than two years duration.
Non-financial contributions are factors such as homemaking responsibilities. These contributions must also be considered substantial, meaning something “exceptional, beyond the usual or normal” such that if a Court did not make an order, a serious injustice would result to the party.
Case Study – Can You Relate?
The parties lived together for ten months. The parties first rent a unit and then decide to buy a property for $700,000. One of them, the wealthy partner contributes $80,000 towards the purchase of the property. The property is purchased in the sole name of the other partner. The wealthy partner pays the majority of the mortgage repayments.
The wealthy partner wants to claim back her $80,000 deposit and the amounts that she paid towards the mortgage repayments. The other partner refuses and the wealthy partner subsequently vacates the property.
If you can relate to this example, your situation is similar, or you wish to avoid this nightmare when entering into a new relationship, the lawyers at Farrell Family Law can help. Farrell Family Lawyers specialise in family law matters and can assist with clarifying your options. Please feel free to contact us or call one of our lawyers on +61 3 8393 0144 for an obligation free discussion.