If couples who are married or in a civil union separate before their relationship has lasted three years, the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 will sometimes require the partners to divide their relationship property equally. In other circumstances, they must divide their relationship property based on the contributions each partner has made to the relationship.
If the partners to a de facto relationship separate after less than three years, the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 will only apply to them in special circumstances. If the Act applies, they must divide their property based on the contributions each partner has made to the relationship.
There can be problems with these rules. We think the rules could be simpler. The same division rules should apply to all short-term relationships, regardless of whether the relationship is a marriage, civil union or a de facto relationship.
We discuss these problems further and some options for reform in our more detailed Issues Paper (Part E).