de facto relationships

201411.04
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De facto relationships.


Lots of people think that a de facto relationship only arises if the parties are living together for a fixed period like 18 months or two years. A recent case knocks that one on the head.


The parties had:- (i) regularly spent weekends together at each other’s homes for 10 years

(ii) travelled overseas together

(iii) a child although the father described the conception as “a fling”

(iv) gone through a mock wedding ceremony after the birth of the child.


The father said that he had done this to ensure that a stigma of illegitimacy would not attach to their child within their community.


A DVD of the wedding was part of the evidence of the mother. The judge in the case said of the mock wedding that “it sits uneasily with the father’s assertion that the parties were not in a “de facto” relationship. Other evidence of “something more than an ordinary friendship” including photographs, a Valentine’s Day Card, “a wedding invitation”, a draft financial agreement and a family Medicare Card also tipped the balance in favour of a finding that there was a de facto relationship.


The court weighed the following evidence against the finding of de facto relationship:-

  • lack of a permanent joint residence;
  • non–intermingling of bank accounts; and
  • evidence of a continuing relationship between the father and his previous wife and found that they did not outweigh the other matters set out above. A finding of de facto relationship was made.