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Same-sex and heterosexual defacto relationships share many of the same legal rights of married couples.

A defacto relationship describes a relationship between two people who are not married but live together as a couple. The same laws apply to same-sex and heterosexual couples.

In Queensland, defacto couples can register their relationship.


Defacto relationships

A defacto relationship describes a relationship between two people who are not married but who live together as a couple. The same laws apply to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples.

There is no single legal definition of a defacto relationship as there are different requirements for different legal purposes.


Disputes about children

The same family law applies to disputes about children—whether you are married or in a defacto relationship.


Property disputes

If your defacto relationship (including same-sex relationships) ended on or after 1 March 2009 you may be able to apply for a property settlement under the Family Law Act if:

  • you lived together as a couple for at least 2 years, or
  • there is a child from the relationship, or
  • you or your ex-partner made substantial contributions (financial or otherwise) to the relationship.


Same-sex relationships

A same-sex relationship is recognised as being between 2 people of the same sex.

Since 2002, same-sex couples have been recognised under the legal requirements for defacto relationships in Queensland. In 2008, the Australian Government removed discrimination against same sex couples and their children in areas such as:

  • superannuation schemes
  • social security
  • veterans’ entitlements
  • workplace relations
  • workers’ compensation
  • taxation
  • health
  • immigration
  • citizenship

In Queensland, same-sex couples are entitled to legal rights including dividing property.


Legal recognition

All same‑sex married couples (including those who married overseas before 9 December 2017) are, from 9 December 2017, married couples for the purposes of family law.

This may have some implications for same‑sex couples who were married overseas and who had pending family law proceedings on 9 December 2017, who are parties to a financial agreement made before 9 December 2017, or who were benefiting from a maintenance Order from a previous relationship.

Same-sex defacto relationships are recognised as defacto relationships for some legal purposes. Couples can jointly own property, and have the same rights to property settlement as other defacto couples in Queensland. Couples can leave property to each other in their will and can appoint each other in a power of attorney or statutory health authority.

Same-sex married couples, including those with existing civil unions and overseas marriages at 9 December 2017 should seek legal advice about succession planning.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders are available to same-sex couples.

Same-sex married couples may, from 9 December 2017, be able to  legally adopt a child in Queensland.



This information applies to birth mothers in Queensland who are in a same-sex un-married relationship with a female defacto partner.

If they consent, the birth mother’s female defacto partner can be recognised as a parent if the couple’s child has been born using a fertilisation procedure, such as in vitro fertilisation.

On the child’s birth certificate the parents will be recorded as ‘mother’ and ‘parent’. If the birth was registered without the mother’s female defacto partner recorded as ‘parent’, they can then apply to correct the birth register to include the parent’s name through the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You will have to pay a fee.

If the father was recorded on the child’s birth certificate, then it can only be changed if there is a Court Order by the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Birth mothers who are married to a same-sex partner should get legal advice about whether the parentage presumptions apply.


Registered relationships

In Queensland, defacto couples can register their relationship (called a civil partnership). This can be done as a sign of commitment or for legal reasons. A registered relationship is not the same as a marriage. A civil partnership ends if either party marries.


Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.

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