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Are you in a De facto relationship? (Case Study)

Are you in a De facto relationship? (Case Study)

Posted On: 19 January

How do your family and friends ‘view’ your relationship? Are you in a de facto relationship without even knowing it?

In the recent case of Crick & Bennett, the Full Court of the Family Court upheld Judge Tonkin’s decision that the parties had been living in a de facto relationship for approximately 13 years despite Mr Crick believing that the parties had separated and were living under one roof since 2004.

The parties had lived together since 2001 (on Ms Bennett’s case) and 2002 (on Mr Crick’s case), had a child in 2003 but separated in 2004 however remained living together until 2014 when Mr Crick re-partnered. The parties did not acquire any joint property nor held a joint account.

Mr Crick submitted to the Court that the notion of a ‘couple’ is not a relevant consideration however the Full Court stated that “the ultimate task of the court is to determine the parties had ‘a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis’” and therefore the concept of ‘couple’ is a part of the test.

Significant evidence of a de facto relationship?

The Full Court found that there was significant evidence as to the public aspects of the relationship which supported the finding that there was a de facto relationship such as:

  • the parties had attended events together with their child, including family barbeques and Christmas celebrations where they ‘presented as a couple’;
  • the parties had dinner with friends together and, on at least one occasion, attended dinner at the home of parents of children from their child’s school; and
  • the parties visited Ms Crick’s sister almost weekly over the summer together.

Have a degree of  mutual commitment

The Trial Judge stated “I find that the parties by their conduct demonstrated a degree of mutual commitment to a shared life, supported and cared for their child, provided practical and financial assistance and support for each other and their child”.

This matter will now be proceeding to a Trial to determine Ms Bennett’s entitlements after 13 years in a defacto relationship.

The full decision can be found at: https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FamCAFC/2018/68.html

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