In this edition of ‘It depends’, senior associate Steven Jell talks about the distinction between married and de facto couples.
Steven, along with special counsel Craig Turvey, will be presenting on this topic at our Annual Adviser Conference on 23 and 24 March 2023. Register now to attend in person or online.
Hi. Welcome to another edition of It Depends. Today, we’re going to look at the distinction between married and de facto couples.
Does marriage matter?
For many years, there was a clear distinction between those who had married and those who were yet to tie the knot. These days, the distinction is less clear, and the answer really depends on the context in which the question is asked.
What are the differences?
So, it depends. The law can differ from state to state and from one right to another. For example, marriage will generally nullify a Will to the extent that it provides for someone other than the person to whom you marry. Similarly, in some states, marriage will also invalidate the existence of an enduring power of attorney. Whereas if I were to commence or end a de facto relationship, the ending or commencement of the relationship will not invalidate either of those documents. Unlike marriage, there is no special piece of paper that you can wave around to confirm that you’re in a de facto relationship and proving the existence or the ending of such a relationship can be different depending on the individual circumstances.
What about same sex couples?
Since December 2017, sex and gender no longer impact the ability of two individuals to marry under Australian law. The rights of same sex couples regarding things like family law property settlement, estate litigation and superannuation death benefit payments have largely reflected those rights of married couples for much longer than that.
How do I learn more?
During our Annual Adviser Conference on 23 and 24 March, Craig Turvey and I will explore the difference between married and de facto couples across the spectrum of family law, estate planning, superannuation and other areas. If you’re interested in learning more, please book your ticket and we’d love to see you there. Thank you for watching this edition of It Depends.