Determining child custody when a de facto relationship ends

Date: Apr 07, 2014

Having a child with someone is a huge commitment, but sometimes the relationship with this person does not last. Even when you are not married to your partner, splitting up can be difficult - especially when faced with determining child custody.

If you're planning to end a de facto relationship and there are children involved, you may want to speak with a family lawyer regarding a child custody agreement.

Often, splitting from a de facto partner can be complicated process, so to help understand your rights and obligations regarding child custody, here are a few key questions to ask yourself first.

Am I in a de facto relationship?

According to the Court, there are a number of factors that can determine a de facto relationship. Ultimately, a de facto relationship is defined as two unrelated and unmarried adults, who may be of the same or opposite sex, living together on a 'genuine domestic basis'.

You can be in a de facto relationship with someone even if you are still legally married to someone else, are living in a de facto relationship with another person or you are not living with your partner on a full-time basis.

When deciding if you have been in an official de facto relationship, the Court will consider the following factors:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • Financial arrangements
  • The care and support of children
  • Your living arrangements
  • Whether you own property together
  • How you presented your relationship in public

What rights do I have?

Under the Family Law Act, all de facto couples have the same rights as married spouses in relation to the distribution of property and child support.

This means that if your relationship breaks down, you and your partner can each apply to the Family Court for a property settlement and child custody agreement. 

Even under same-sex de facto partnerships, children will be considered dependents of both parents. Parenting and custody matters will therefore need to be settled by both individuals. 

How can I determine child custody?

Similar to the divorce of a married couple, de facto partners will be required to make formal agreements regarding the custody of any children in the relationship.

This can either be settled between the parents or through the Family Court. Decisions made regarding children should always consider what arrangement will be in the best interest of the child. A complete child custody arrangement will typically include where the children will live, who they will spend time with, who they will communicate with and who will make major long-term decisions for them.

If you are concerned about how an impending de facto relationship break down will impact on your children, get in touch with the family lawyers at Craddock Murray Neumann today.