A One Stop Shop for Family Law in Australia
Online Pubisher of Family Law Legal Information in Australia
With the exception of those in Western Australia, the Family Law Act applies to de facto and same sex couples if you separated:
You can do your property settlement division or make arrangements for spousal maintenance as soon as you want after separation.
However after separation if a person who was in a de facto relationship hasn't finalised their property settlement division or spousal maintenance then a time limit does apply.
If the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) applies, then a de facto couple must apply to the court for property settlement and/or spousal maintenance within 2 years of the date of their separation.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) will not apply if the couple separated:
If separation occurred prior to those dates, the both parties would both would have to agree to “opt in” for the Family Law Act 1975 to apply.
This option is not available to couples from Western Australia unless they have a sufficient connection with another State such that Western Australian jurisdiction does not apply to them and they have jurisdiction in another State.
If separation occurred prior to those dates and the parties do not both agree to “opt in” to have the Family Law Act 1975 apply, (or the couple is from Western Australian) then legislation in their particular state will apply and that legislation will determine the time limit and entitlements. If that applies to you then you should urgently check the time limit that applies to you.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) an application to the court for leave to proceed with a property settlement or spousal maintenance application can be made after the 2 year period has expired, but such applications are only granted in limited circumstances.
One of those limited circumstances in which an application for leave to proceed with a property settlement or spousal maintenance application will usually be granted is if both parties consent.
Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
Other Questions answered in the De Facto Relationships Section
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