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  • QLD: Gay couples unaware of legal rights, says lawyer
  • AAP
  • 29/01/2007 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 59 articles in 2007 )
GOLD COAST - Many gay couples in a marriage-like relationship are unaware of their legal rights if they split up, a Queensland family law expert says.

Commenting on moves in the ACT to legally recognise same-sex partnerships, lawyer Suzanne Harrison said gay couples in Queensland already had the same legal rights as de facto partners in the division of property.

Ms Harrison, of Gold Coast law firm McCowans Family Lawyers, said the apparent ignorance of gay people's rights could cost them a significant share of assets if their relationship broke down.

"Gay people don't seem to realise that in Queensland the law treats same-sex couples the same way as other de facto relationships," Ms Harrison said. "More needs to be done to ensure everyone, including same-sex couples, are fully aware of their rights in the wake of a relationship breakdown."

Ms Harrison said people who live in a marriage-like situation for two years or more were entitled to claim a share of the partnership's property and assets.

The qualifying period is less than two years if there's a child involved or a claimant made a significant contribution to the assets or financial resources.

The 1999 Property Law Act, which allows de factos to claim in much the same way as married couples, makes no distinction based on the gender of couples.

The law also allows couples to make agreements about how they would divide their property if they separated.

Claims have to be made within two years of the break-up.

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