If you are anything like me, then every Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night is spent sitting on the lounge, revelling in the magnificent drama that is Married At First Sight. And if you are anything like me, basically every minute of that is spent wondering how Ines can have so much contempt and distaste for a man that only a few weeks ago was a complete stranger to her.

What you probably haven’t considered though, is how she will feel when she realises her fake television husband is a millionaire, and despite her “marriage” to him, she doesn’t stand to receive any benefit from this. I imagine her face will be something like this:

So, why is it that Ines has no entitlement to Bronson’s assets (aside from the fact that the wedding was a fake wedding and they were never legally married)? Because, just as they were never really married, they were never in a de facto relationship.

For a person to have an entitlement to another person’s assets, provided for by the Family Law Act of Australia, the parties must have been married or in a de facto relationship. Whilst shows like Married at First Sight may muddy the waters a little when it comes to marriage, whether or not two parties were married is generally an easy question to answer. Whether or not two parties were in a de facto relationship however, can be harder.

The Family Law Act in Section 4AA provides a definition of a de facto relationship as follows:

A person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:

(a)  the persons are not legally married to each other; and

(b) the persons are not related by family and

(c)  having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, they have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.

In determining whether parties were in a de facto relationship the Court will generally consider the following:

  (a)      the duration of the relationship;

  (b)     the nature and extent of their common residence;

  (c)      whether a sexual relationship exists;

  (d)     the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them;

(e)  the ownership, use and acquisition of their property; the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;

(g)  whether the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory as a prescribed kind of relationship;

the care and support of children;

(h)       the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

This can be a difficult area of law, particularly in circumstances where one party had a carer role for the other party, and in short relationships.

If you believe you may be entitled to a family law property settlement we invite you to contact our office to discuss the next step with one of our experienced family lawyers.