Opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are treated the same, except in relation to marriage. Under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) it is not possible for same-sex couples to be legally married in Australia. Nor may an Australian court make a declaration of validity in relation to a same-sex marriage entered into overseas.
In this chapter, opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are both referred to as 'de facto relationships'.
A de facto relationship of any length will be recognised in some areas of law; that is, there is no time requirement for recognition of the relationship. In these cases, a de facto relationship is treated as a marriage. Areas of law covered here:
- Applying for Legal Aid
- Pensions and Benefits
- Children (including recognition of the birth of a child to same-sex female parents)
- Child Support
- Intervention Orders
- Agreements about property
- Criminal Code
In other areas of law, a de facto relationship must have existed for a certain period of time before it is recognised. Depending on the area of law, the relationship must have existed for a one year, two year, three year or five year period.
One year for recognition: migration law.
Two years for recognition: property disputes (Family Law Act).
Three years for recognition: State law matters, including
- Inadequate provision in a will
- Where there is no will
- Death caused by a negligent act
- Superannuation under a State scheme
- Death caused by crime
- Workplace death
- Stamp Duties
- Accessing reproductive technologies
Five years for recognition: adoption.
NOTE: if there is a child of the relationship, the relevant time period may not be required and a relationship of any length will be recognised.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.