So what is a de facto relationship in Australia? According to the Family Law Act you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not legally married to each other, you are not related by family and you have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. In assessing if a couple are living together on a genuine domestic basis, factors taken into account include the degree of the couple’s combined financial affairs; the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; the reputation and public aspects of the relationship; the nature and extent of common residence; the ownership and use of their property; and the care and support of children.
De facto status is not achieved through any formal ceremony, other than registering your relationship in some Australian States or Territories. Unlike marriage, de facto status is not entirely portable. This means, while it is recognised in all states of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, it is not formally recognised in the USA and many other countries.
The Department of Immigration assess all applicants who claim to be a de facto partner on the genuineness of the relationship. You must be able to show that you are in a long term, committed relationship with each other with evidence of living in a de facto relationship for a minimum period of time – 6 months for most temporary visas, and 12 months for permanent visas. If you are applying for a Partner visa on the basis of your de facto relationship, you must be able to show that you have been in a de facto relationship for a minimum of 12 months immediately before applying or that you have registered your relationship with the relevant authority.
Understanding if you are in a de facto relationship can be crucial when applying for any type of Australian visa. It is therefore important to engage an experienced Registered Migration Agent for initial advice and assistance.