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What is Relationship Property?

11 December 2019

The Property (Relationships) Act 1976 sets out the law for division of ‘relationship property’ following division of a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship. A de facto relationship is simply a relationship - irrespective of the sex of either person - where the two people are 18 or older and live together as a couple

What does it include?

Relationship property includes things such as the family home, chattels (household items such as kitchen utensils and furniture), and some portions of superannuation and life insurance schemes. Property which is not included as relationship property is referred to as ‘separate property’.

How is it divided up?

After a relationship, marriage or civil union ends, people tend to want to sort out who’s is what and who will pay what when they go their separate ways. As a general rule, the law provides that after separation relationship property is to be divided equally.

Common Issues

  • Who stays in the family home?
  • If I’m not staying in the family home do I have to keep paying the mortgage?
  • Is there a way I can I force them out?
  • What if we have been together less than three years?
  • Is my student loan relationship property?
  • Is there a way for me to keep the furniture?
  • What if I put my property into a trust after I met my partner?
  • What if my property is in a family trust?
  • What if I didn’t work but stayed at home with the kids?
  • Are maintenance and child support the same thing?

A lot of the time these questions can be answered and an agreement reached between the parties.

What happens if we can’t agree?

Sometimes the parties cannot agree and going to Court is necessary. A Court can rule on the following:

  • Is there a de facto relationship?
  • Should equal division apply?
  • Should me putting my trust into a property be put aside?
  • Should I be compensated for my partner staying in the family home?

Generally the Act applies to relationships where the parties have lived to together for three years or more. However, there are some situations where shorter relationships may apply.

Each situation is unique, so contact us and we will help you work through it.