It was recently decided in the Court of Appeal that the laws that apply to couples for the division of Relationship Property can now be applied to polyamorous relationships.

A married couple met a third person and they entered into what would become a long term (15-year) relationship. The married couple moved into a property owned by the new partner. 

The trio lived together in a relationship with many of the features of a normal relationship. They shared the same bed, made joint purchases, ran businesses from the property, and all contributed to the maintenance and upkeep of the property. The married couple also held a private ceremony for the new partner in which they were given identical rings.

After 15 years, all three partners to the relationship separated. The two partners that had been married made a claim against the third for an interest in the property they had all been living in. 

The two people making the claim argued that the law should apply to them as if they were each in a separate de facto relationship with the third partner.

The case was first heard in the Family Court, where it was decided that a ruling on the matter could not be made, as the Property (Relationships) Act did not apply to relationships of more than two people.

The Court of Appeal have now ruled that the Family Court can decide relationship property matters regarding polyamorous relationships in the same way that relationship property matters regarding marriages, civil unions or de facto relationships are decided.

The Court stated that there were clear indications in the Act that the law could apply simultaneously to a married couple, and another committed relationship, and that there are therefore multiple types of relationships to which the Act can apply.

In this current scenario, this means that the starting point would mean relationship property should be divided into three, and a third given to each party.


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Shaun Cousins