The answer could have a significant impact on your personal and business life.
The answer however is not always clear cut.
In Zimin & Nickson  FCCA 206 the male partner (the “Husband”) contended that he had been merely dating for a significant period of the relationship whereas, the female partner (the “Wife”) contended they were in a marriage type relationship for the previous nine years.
This was a case where the parties could not agree on anything.
They could not agree on when they started their relationship or when they ended it.
At stake was an asset pool of over $1 million including rural property which had been in the Husband’s family for years.
The parties married in 2008 and separated in 2010. But it was the nature of their relationship prior to marriage that was bitterly disputed. Were they just dating or in a de facto relationship?
The parties met in 2002 at university and began socialising thereafter. The Husband said that the relationship was mostly a dating and sexual relationship with waxing and waning degrees of intensity from 2002 onwards. The Husband characterised the relationship as “dating flatmates” being a “contemporary form of relationship, far short of marriage or a de facto form of marriage”.
The Chinese born Wife described herself as a “city girl” and brought little financial resources to the relationship whereas the Husband was well established.
In the result the judge assessed the parties various and disparate contributions arising during their marriage as favouring the Husband 73%/23% the Wife.
The judge gave some but slight regard to contributions made by the Wife in the early years of the parties relationship when they were “dating”.