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Key decisions

  • Crick & Bennett [2018] FamCAFC 68
  • Higgins [2018] FamCA 243


De facto thresholds – evidence that parties ‘presented as a couple’ meaningless – bald denial without contrary evidence also inadequate

In Crick & Bennett [2018] FamCAFC 68 (13 April 2018) the Full Court (Ainslie-Wallace, Aldridge & Watts JJ) dismissed Mr Crick’s appeal against Judge Tonkin’s declaration that a de facto relationship existed while he lived in Ms Bennett’s home from 2001 to 2014. He argued that despite having a child in 2003 they had lived apart under one roof since 2004, never acquiring any joint property nor operating any joint account.

The Full Court said (at [9]-[10]):

‘[O]n many occasions the respondent gave evidence that the parties went out to particular events where they “presented as a couple”. The appellant simply denied that they did so. … [T]he evidence does not add to those bald descriptions and denials to give any indication of what actually occurred at these events. It is difficult to understand what is meant by the phrase “presented as a couple”. If it meant that the parties arrived at a function or event together and left together, then the phrase adds little to the evidence … already before the Court. If it is intended to suggest something else … it is not clear to us what that might be.

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