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IAFL Global Comparison of LGBT Laws

The International Academy of Family Lawyers, of which Vanessa Mathews is a Fellow, has published a global survey of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender laws (LGBT laws), the results of which can be found here

The IAFL LGBT Committee stated ‘Laws affecting LGBT people vary greatly by country or jurisdiction. There are now 28 jurisdictions that accept same sex marriage, however gay sex remains illegal in many jurisdictions with the death penalty still applying in 14.

The International Academy of Family Lawyers (“IAFL”) supports all efforts towards full equality of the LGBT community throughout the world and the end to rules that unfairly discriminate against such individuals and, in many countries, criminalize countless couples because of the ones they love. There remains a lot of work to be done.
The work done by some fellows of the IAFL is having a real impact and changing for the better the lives of LGBT people. The LGBT Committee of the IAFL commissioned this survey to capitalize on the knowledge and expertise of some members for the benefit of the IAFL as a whole and the LGBT community.

The individual submissions in this survey are the work of fellows of the IAFL who have kindly donated their time and expertise to answer the same questions as set out below. Each of the contributor’s names and contact details are included.

The LGBT Committee intends that this should be a living resource. We are asking those who have already kindly donated their time to keep us informed as laws change in their jurisdictions. We have detailed submissions from 46 jurisdictions, however, there remains a good number of jurisdictions not covered where the IAFL has fellows. If your jurisdiction is not covered and you feel able to complete a survey, please get in touch with the IAFL.’

Congratulations to the IAFL LGBT committee members for preparing such a comprehensive review of comparative laws.


Separation agreements

Separation agreements are a type of Binding Financial Agreement. A separation agreement is entered into in anticipation of, or at the conclusion of a de facto relationship. These agreements can provide for the division of the parties’ property and maintenance.


Proof of a de facto relationship

A de facto relationship is defined as one in which a couple lives together in a genuine ‘domestic situation’.  There will be a close personal relationship between two adults whether related to one another or not, one or each of whom gives domestic support and personal care.

A Court will make Orders if it is satisfied that:

  • the couple had a child together,
  • the couple lived together for at least two years or
  • the applicant made financial or non-financial contributions or cared for the other party’s child and injustice would result if an order were not made.

De facto relationships

The laws relating to property settlement at the end of a de facto (including gay or lesbian de facto relationship – see Same sex couples) have recently changed. For relationships that have broken down since 1 March 2009, the Court now deals with all of the legal aspects of the separation, including any parenting agreement, property settlement and maintenance. As a result, parties to relationships that have broken down after 1 March 2009 may have more extensive entitlements and obligations than they would have had under State law.

The lawyers at Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists Melbourne understand the difficulties involved and the unique nature of individual relationships. We have extensive experience negotiating property settlements for couples who have a substantial asset pool, such as a major property/share portfolio or a family business. The process of a breakdown in a de facto relationship can be just as complex as divorce. We understand both the emotional and the commercial implications of splitting assets. We are committed to ensuring a fair settlement is achieved as quickly as possible, we aim to reduce the time taken and therefore the cost to you.

In addition to helping couples after a relationship breakdown, we can also provide advice to clients who may be considering entering into a de facto relationship and want to protect their assets and financial independence.


What Are The “Circumstances” According To The Law?

1. How long you’ve been together

2. Your home – how long you’ve been living together and to what extent is it a joint home

3. Is there a sexual relationship

4. Your financial commitment to one another, ie, does one partner support the other?

5. Whether or not there is joint property. If there is, the court will ask how the property was acquired and used

6. The nature of the commitment and if it is mutual

7. Whether or not your relationship was registered (in those territories where registration is possible)

8. If there are children, the court will want to know who cares for them, makes decisions for them and supports them

9. How other people see your relationship

10. How you and your partner behave in public, ie as a couple or leading separate lives



De Facto Couples

Many couples today are in committed relationships that are not legally recognised as marriages in Australia. Some opposite sex couples choose not to marry for reasons of conscience or religion. In the case of same-sex couples, the law does not (yet) permit marriage. But the law grants these de facto couples virtually all of the same rights – and responsibilities – as legally married couples. These include laws on division of property, maintenance, child custody and child support.