This section examines the law relating to same-sex and de facto relationships and families in Victoria in regards to having the same name, having children, rights and responsibilities, reproductive assistance, inheritance, registration of birth and financial matters.


Rebecca Dahl

Partner, Nicholes Family Lawyers

Commonwealth legislation related to same-sex and de facto couples and families

Family Law Act 2008 (Cth) amendments

The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008 (Cth) amended the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (‘FL Act’) with two major reforms.

First, it brought de facto (redefined to include same-sex couples) property matters within the jurisdiction of the Family Court. Couples who separated prior to 2 March 2009 can opt into the Family Court jurisdiction by consent. Among other advantages, this now enables same-sex and heterosexual de facto couples to benefit from the superannuation splitting provisions of the FL Act and to have the care and control of a child of the relationship taken into account in property settlements and maintenance (ss 60 EA, 60HA, 60H(1), 90RB, 90SF FL Act).

Second, the amended FL Act now conclusively presumes that the non-birth mother (‘the intended parent’) of a child born through artificial conception procedures is the parent of the child (s 60H(1)). In relation to surrogacy, if a court has made a substituted parentage order, then the child is the child of the parents named in that order (s 60HB(1)).

On 1 September 2018, the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 (Cth) commenced. This Act seeks to improve the capacity of the justice system to provide effective outcomes for vulnerable members of the community who are experiencing family violence. The family law system’s response to family violence as well as to child protection systems has been enhanced by this Act.

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