Changes to The Family Law in Australia has seen a hand over of the regulation of relationships from the individual states to the Commonwealth.
This means that defacto relationships, (both hetero and same sex) now rest under the protective umbrella of the Family Law Act.
Cohabitation Agreements are now called Binding Financial Agreements and are classified under particular sections of the Act.
- 90UC – for couples already living together; and
- 90UB – for couples intending to live together (but not yet sharing a residence)
Couples living together or intending to live together can now have the security of a mutually agreed contract in writing, for their own protection.
A Cohabitation agreement is the legal expression of your intentions as de facto partners and in the agreement you can define how you intend to divide your assets and maintain any children you may have with each other or prior to your relationship.
What does this mean?
Should you ever separate, you can refer to your Cohabitation Agreement and save yourself the stress, heartache and cost of settling property or maintenance matters within the Court system.
Drafting a Cohabitation Agreement is more likely to ensure a fairer outcome for both parties and allows you to avoid unnecessary and costly court litigation later on.
When to use these agreements
Cohabitation Agreements are agreements made between people who are living together or intending to live together but not intending to get married.
Couples intending to get married should define their relationship with a Financial Agreement under section 90B of the act.
Don’t put off discussing topics such as breaking up and death. It is a sign of the strength and determination of your relationship that you are able sit and calmly discuss the practical aspects of your relationship.
You can discuss matters together with your lawyer before committing an agreement to writing.
As the Family Law Act requires each party to receive independent legal advice before signing the agreement one party will need to see another lawyer. This ensures both parties fully comprehend their rights before entering the agreement and it prevents misunderstandings.
Disclaimer: This fact sheet provides general information and does not provide legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer before making a decision about what to do or applying to a court.