A married man had a secret 17 year extra marital relationship, which according to the alleged de facto wife, constituted a de facto relationship, as she said she and the man enjoyed time together at various times in various places, had a sexual relationship, and expressed love and affection for each other. The man had paid the woman $2,000 monthly, increasing to $2,500 and then $3,000 per month and had paid $24,000 to help her purchase a property.

The Court held in favour of the man, and found on the evidence that the relationship was not a de facto relationship; rather, it was an affair. The woman did not have grounds on which to seek a property settlement from the man. The Court sought to define what is commonly known as ‘de facto relationships’ and emphasized the key to the definition is ‘where parties have so merged their lives that they were, for all practical purposes, ‘living together’ as a couple on a genuine domestic basis’. It is the manifestation of ‘coupledom’ which involves the merger of two lives… that is the core of a de facto relationship’.

The Court did however, confirm that ‘exclusivity’ is not necessary to be able to establish a de facto. So it is probably possible to be married and have a legally recognized de facto relationship.