Achieving a Fair Family Law Settlement for De Facto and Same Sex Couples in Victoria

15 March 2013

The Family Law in Victoria is now almost exclusively governed by the Family Law Act (Commonwealth) whether you are married, or in a de facto or same sex relationship.  The State of Victoria previously had the power to make laws concerning couples who were not married, but referred those powers to the Commonwealth Government in 2009.  

There may be some couples still covered by the Relationships Act (Victoria) e.g. If the final separation took place before 1 March 2009.  If you were in a de-facto or same sex relationship in Victoria which lasted for two years or more, and you separated before 1 March 2009, then the issues of property settlement and maintenance are governed by the Relationships Act (Victoria) unless both parties voluntarily agree to opt in to be covered by the Family Law Act.  One reason why people may wish to opt in the Family Law Act scheme is to avail themselves of the possibility of being able to legally split superannuation entitlements- this cannot be done under the Victorian law.

It is very important to note that there are time limitations when it comes to making a claim for property settlement and/or maintenance:

  • If you are married, you must issue any court proceedings before the expiry of one year after a Divorce
  • If you are in a de facto or same sex relationship, you must issue any court proceedings before the expiry of two years after the date on which you separate

There may be circumstances in which the Court may grant leave to make a Family Law Property Division and/or Maintenance Application out of time and we are able to provide advice on this taking into account your specific circumstances.

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