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De Facto or Not?

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Whether people are in a de facto relationship or not often requires detailed legal analysis. A recent case, Jensen & Taylor, highlights the many factors looked at in determining what constitutes a de facto relationship.

The parties were teenage sweethearts. They conceived a child together who was born in 1994. The parties went their separate ways in September 1993.

Ms Jensen remained living in Bendigo, married, and had children. She was divorced in 2006. Mr Taylor moved to the Geelong area, married, and had children of his own.

The parties met up again in October 2006. Their romance flourished again and an intimate relationship began in December 2006.

Mr Taylor began visiting and sleeping with Ms Jensen in Bendigo on a Friday night although the visits did not take place every Friday night and sometimes there was a gap of up to two weeks between visits.  On some occasions Mr Taylor stayed for two nights and once for three nights. The parties never ‘moved in’ together on a more regular basis.

Mr Taylor took Ms Jensen on various holidays including four trips to Thailand, two trips to Perth and one trip to Europe for two and a half weeks. Mr Taylor paid the entire costs of each of these trips.

In 2009, Ms Jensen fell pregnant with the parties’ second child.  In July 2009 Mr Taylor told Ms Jensen that he did not want a permanent relationship with her. The parties again went their separate ways after returning from Europe. The parties’ second child was born in 2010.

Ms Jensen claimed that Mr Taylor rented a home for them in Geelong, and that she intended to move there with her children to live with him. Mr Taylor disputed this claim. The parties never set up house or lived together in Geelong or Bendigo.

The Court found that the parties had maintained separate lives but came together, on a regular basis to enjoy a loving, sexual relationship but had failed to merge their two lives into one common life.  The Court considered the long-standing nature of the relationship and their consistent and monogamous sexual relationship. The Court also considered the financial support provided to Ms Jensen by Mr Taylor.

The Court found that each of the parties kept and maintained their own household, there was no real relationship between Mr Taylor and Ms Jensen’s children and noted that the time spent between the parties was spent together, as distinct from time spent socialising with others as a couple.

The Court held that a de facto relationship had never existed between the parties and dismissed Ms Jensen’s application for spousal maintenance.

If you need advice on de facto relationships, please contact Stacey Taylor of our Family Law team on 8540 0200 or stacey.taylor@mst.com.au

Author: Stacey Taylor

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