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Frequently Asked Questions 

Who will decide property rights if the relationship dissolves?

Are there any restrictions on the courts ability to make property or maintenance orders?

Can applications for maintenance or property settlements be made under the Act if the relationship ended prior to the Act coming into force?

What factors determine an adjustment of property or maintenance?

What happens if a party dies during property adjustment proceedings?

Can I come to Tasmania to register with my partner?

Is registration like getting married?

If my partner and I register can we access federal benefits and entitlements in areas like superannuation, tax, Medicare and immigration?

Do I have any rights if I don't register?

Who has access to the Relationships Register?

What other Australian states and territories have Deeds of Relationship?

Is my Tasmanian Deed of Relationship recognised in other Australian states and territories?

Is my interstate or overseas civil union recognised in Tasmania?

Does the Tasmanian register prohibit ceremonies?

Have many couples registered their relationships in Tasmania?

 


Who will decide property rights if the relationship dissolves?

There are two means of determining property rights on the breakdown of a personal relationship.

Generally if the couple are in a significant relationship (i.e. what is referred to in the Commonwealth's Family Law Act 1975 as a "de facto relationship") then property settlements and parenting orders may be sought and made through the Family Court of Australia.

For those in caring relationships (and in some very limited circumstances in significant relationships) the Relationships Act provides for property settlements to be made.  The Magistrates Court has jurisdiction where the property concerned does not exceed limits imposed by S. 7 of the Magistrates Court (Civil Division) Act 1992.  Matters which involve property of a greater value are commenced in or will be transferred to the Supreme Court.


Are there any restricitions on the courts ability to make property or maintenance orders?

Except where the couple have registered a deed of relationship, a Tasmanian court cannot generally make either a property or maintenance order under the Relationships Act unless the relationship between the couple has existed for a minimum period of two years.

Other exceptions to this general rule are where the parties have a child or the applicant is caring for the child of the respondent or where the applicant has made substantial contributions to the couple's joint assets which would not otherwise be compensated for.

Although the Tasmanian courts have some discretion to extend that time limit, applications for maintenance or property adjustment should be made within two years of the relationship ending.


Can applications for maintenance or property settlements be made under the Relationships Act if the relationship ended prior to the Act coming into force?

The Relationships Act does not apply to a personal relationship that ended prior to the commencement of the Relationships Act nor does it apply to a person who was a partner in a personal relationship that ceased before the commencement of the Relationships Act in relation to matters arising out of that relationship.

Whether orders may be obtained under the Family Law Act is a matter on which you may wish to seek formal legal advice.


What factors determine an adjustment of property or maintenance?

The Relationships Act provides a number of factors which may help to determine property adjustment.  These include but are not limited to:

(a)  financial and non-financial contributions by either partner which lead to the acquiring, conservation or improvement of the property owned by the couple;
(b)  financial resources of either or both partners;
(c)  contributions made to the welfare of the other partner, the welfare of both partners and the welfare of any children in the care of either or both partners; and
(d)  the nature and duration of the relationship.

Maintenance can be ordered in favour of a partner unable to support themselves because of adverse effects that the personal relationship had on their earning capacity or any other reason arising from the personal relationship.  Factors that will be considered by the court are the financial resources of both parties, the abilities of both parties to find paid work and child care obligations of the parties.

The criteria used by the Commonwealth Family Court may differ.


What happens if a party dies during property adjustment proceedings?

If a partner dies during property adjustment proceedings any order that is made will be made against or in favour of the deceased's estate and can then be enforced by or against the deceased partner's estate.

When a partner dies, the deceased's estate is not obligated to continue maintenance payments.  Maintenance will cease if the person receiving maintenance remarries or registers another deed of relationship.

Generally orders of the court in settlement of the property or maintenance issues will be final but orders providing for periodic maintenance can be reviewed or varied.


Can I come to Tasmania to register with my partner?

Partners in a registered relationship must be domiciled or ordinarily residents of Tasmania.


Is registration like getting married?

Insofar as registration certifies the existence of a relationship, gives partners virtually the same rights as married spouses, and gives relationships official recognition and affirmation, registration is like marriage.

But insofar as there is no compulsory ceremony, and it is open to partners in non-married like relationships, registration is not marriage.


If my partner and I register can we access federal benefits and entitlements in areas like superannuation, tax, Medicare and immigration?

Yes.  The Federal Government recognises significant and caring relationships.  This provides partners in state Deeds of Relationship with immediate and guaranteed access to all rights and entitlements available to de facto partners at a federal level.


Do I have any rights if I don't register?

Yes.  All mixed-sex, same-sex and caring couples have legal rights even if they are not registered.  However, registration makes it easier and quicker to provide evidence that the relationship exists when accessing these rights.


Who has access to the Relationships Register?

Both parties to a Deed of Relationship can apply for a certificate.  Access to the Register is restricted to protect the privacy of those registered from unjustified intrusions.  The Act provides guiding criteria by which to determine whether the person seeking information is justified in doing so and whether the information requested can be provided to them.  It is an offence to access the Register without lawful authority.


What other Australian states and territories have Deeds of Relationship?

Victoria allows "domestic partners" whether same or mixed sex couples to enter Deeds of Relationship.  The ACT has a civil partnership scheme for same sex and mixed sex couples.


Is my Tasmanian Deed of Relationship recognised in other Australian states and territories?

Not directly under their legislation but the criteria for recognising relationships under other State, Territory and Commonwealth law are similar to those in the Relationships Act.  Authorities in those jurisdictions may accept the certificate of registration of the deed as evidence of the existence of the relationship, rather than requiring other forms of evidence.


Is my interstate or overseas civil union recognised in Tasmania?

No.  However a registration certificate from another jurisdiction evidencing your union may be accepted by authorities as evidence of the existence of the relationship, rather than requiring other forms of evidence.


Does the Tasmanian register prohibit ceremonies?

Ceremonies are not prohibited in Tasmania.  But neither is there legislative provision which makes them mandatory.  The scheme has administrative arrangements in place which allow for partners to have an official ceremony to coincide with the registration of their Deed of Relationship.


Have many couples registered their relationships in Tasmania?

Please contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for statistical information.