Rennie & Driscoll 2015 FamCA 467

Section 4AA of the Family Law Act indicates that a pair have a de facto relationship as a couple if they live together on a genuine domestic basis.  Topics to be considered by a Court include: the duration of the relationship; the nature and extent of their common residence; whether a sexual relationship existed; the degree of financial dependence or interdependence and any arrangement for financial support between them; the ownership use and acquisition of property; the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; whether the relationship is or was registered as a prescribed kind of relationship; the care and support of children; and the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

One person being absent for long periods is not evidence that a de facto relationship did not exist.  Two people who live together and share living expenses are not in a de facto relationship.  Having a close personal relationship is not the same as a de facto relationship.   Having a sexual relationship alone does not define a de facto relationship.  Providing care, love and support to a person who aspires to a fuller relationship is not sufficient to establish a de facto relationship.

The case involved a pair who both rented on one property for 14 months, who commenced a casual sexual relationship on an intermittent basis, and went out together about monthly.  The pair never resided together, never prepared meals together, had no financial interdependence, and had no joint property.  The applicant did not pursue the case.

The judge ruled that the burden of proof was on the person who submitted that a de facto relationship existed.