The Federal Circuit Court of Australia at Townsville recently delivered the judgment of Regan & Walsh which found that 2 men living together for an 8 year period were not in a de facto relationship, but were rather “friends with sexual benefits”. As a result, Mr Regan was unable to seek a de facto property settlement from Mr Walsh.
In determining whether the parties were in a “de facto relationship” the Court placed particular weight on the fact that there was no financial dependence between the parties, there was no joint ownership and acquisition of property, there was not a mutual commitment to a shared life, nor was there a perception available to the world at large of a relationship of a genuine domestic nature between the parties.
On Mr Walsh’s evidence, there was no sign of a mutual relationship between the parties. Although the parties lived together, had a sexual relationship and went on occasion social outings, this needed to be seen in a context of Mr Walsh having other friends and other sexual partners during the 2005-2013 periods. The Court was also satisfied of the significance that the parties had not bought any property together. Mr Walsh bought a number of properties without any involvement by Mr Regan. In particular, Mr Walsh bought property with his friend Mr O without Mr Regan’s involvement.
The Court found Mr Regan’s evidence unconvincing with respect to his supposed lack of knowledge of Mr Walsh’s sexual relations with other partners between 2005 and 2013, and the alleged financial contributions made by Mr Regan towards household expenses.
The Court was not convinced that Mr Regan had been making any noteworthy contributions to the relationship, but rather, the Court characterised the situation as one of Mr Regan exploiting Mr Walsh’s financial position for his own interest rather than merely being dependent on Mr Walsh.