There are two types of relationships between unmarried people recognised under New South Wales law: close personal relationships and de facto relationships. In both these cases the people live together.
Understanding your rights in these relationships is important. If you are in a close personal relationship you may be entitled to certain rights if the relationship ends such as provision from your partner's estate should they pass away.
Close personal relationships
Close personal relationships were defined in the 1999 amendment of the De Facto Relationships Act 1984 (NSW). The act was renamed the Property (Relationships) Act 1984. Close personal relationships were added to the legislation. Same sex de facto relationships were also added.
The Succession Act (2006) states that you may be in a close personal relationship if you provide a person that you live with with free care or domestic support (or vice versa) in their daily life. You can be family with the person you provide daily care for and be in a close personal relationship. However, you cannot be married to, or in a de facto relationship with, that person. If you or your partner receive an entitlement due to the care, such as a fee or reward, or provide the care on behalf of another organisation or individual then the relationship is not classed as a close personal relationship.
Examples of close personal relationships are when an adult child cares for an elderly parent in the family home or when two friends live together and one provides care and support for the other.
In most cases the relationship will need to have lasted for more than two years, however there are exceptions. For example, if you care for the child of the other person and the child may suffer if an order is not made by the court.
Property and maintenance rights
You can make a claim for property or maintenance if a close personal relationship breaks down. Both the financial and non-financial contributions of both parties will be taken into account. This may be an avenue you want to explore if you want to be compensated for substantial financial or personal contributions you have made over the course of the relationship.
Child custody arrangements
As stated above if you are the carer of not only the other party, but their child as well you may apply to the court for child custody. Custody arrangements will be decided based on the best interest of the child. You may still be able to take this course of action if the relationship lasted less than two years and if it can be shown the child would suffer an injustice unless the court intervenes and makes an order.
If you were in a close personal relationship and are interested in challenging a will, or you would like further information regarding property issues and child custody discuss your situation with a lawyer.