Same-sex relationships can stand up in courts without marriage.
While the same-sex marriage debate continues, a Sunshine Coast law firm has weighed in on what same-sex couples can do as an interim solution to formalising their relationship in the eyes of the courts.
Garland Waddington Solicitors suggests same-sex couples waiting for a legislative decision on marriage equality could register their relationship with the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Family lawyer at the firm, Micaela Chomley said while same-sex couples were not currently afforded the right to marry, registering their relationship would formalise their de-facto status as an interim solution in appropriate circumstances.
“I understand it’s not the same thing as getting married, however registering a relationship is a way of formally acknowledging the relationship exists and protecting the rights of both parties,” Ms Chomley said.
“There was a recent case in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, where a same-sex couple had parted ways and couldn’t agree on a property settlement.
“When the application for a property settlement between two men who were previously a couple was presented in court, the Judge determined that a de-facto relationship did not exist between the parties and therefore there was no jurisdiction for the Court to make Orders.
“The judge made this decision based on one party’s argument that a de-facto relationship didn’t exist,” Ms Chomley said. “If the couple had formally registered their relationship through the Office off Births, Deaths and Marriages, they would have been deemed a de-facto couple and the outcome in Court may have been very different.
“The same applies for hetero-sexual relationships too. If for some reason, the two parties are unable to get married, however they want to formally protect their rights, it is a real solution to formalise the relationship and protect their assets,” Ms Chomley said.
Last week, Federal backbencher, Warren Entsch, became the first Coalition party member to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage. However, it's highly unlikely the bill will be voted on before next year's election.
It is important to get legal advice prior to entering into a registered relationship as this will have a number of impacts on other areas of your life such as health insurance (ie. your next of kin), superannuation, wills and estate planning (including family provision claims contesting a will).
For more information or to seek advice on your own personal situation, visit www.garlandwaddington.com.au