In a recent case a man registered a caveat on a woman’s house. He then asked the Court to make an order that the woman sell her house and pay the man 40% of the proceeds of sale. The man told the Court that he and the woman were in a de facto relationship. The woman said they were not, but rather they were merely boyfriend and girlfriend.
The man originally met the woman in 2001. At that time, he was living in a garage. The woman let him stay in her house and sooner or later they began a sexual relationship.
The woman was unemployed and received Centrelink benefits. At no point did she ever mention to Centrelink that she was in a de facto relationship. In 2004, the man and the woman had their first child. In 2006 they had their second child. The woman told the Court that the man was violent and she asked him to leave on many occasions.
The woman had made a child support application on the basis that she and the man were not in a de facto relationship. During the 13 years that the man had to pay child support payments, there was no evidence that he tried to correct the Child Support Agency's records to state that he was in a de facto relationship with the woman.
In court the man claimed that he had lived with the woman continuously from 2001 to 2014. He said he believed that the woman did not disclose the de facto relationship to Centrelink because she would receive reduced payments. However, his sister gave evidence that the man and woman had only lived together for a short period of time.
After weighing up all the evidence regarding their on and off relationship, the Court noted the difference between a couple being boyfriend and girlfriend versus being in a de facto relationship. The court decided that the statements the man and woman had made to Centrelink and the Child Support Agency accurately reflected their relationship status. The man was therefore not entitled to any part of the property, and was ordered to remove the caveat.
If you are unsure if you are in a de facto relationship you should seek legal advice by calling Fox and Staniland Lawyers on (02) 9440 1202.