The Problem with De facto Relationships

Updated: Sep 14

So many of the problems we are facing today in our modern society are repercussions of the

failings of previous generations. Decisions that were made decades ago continue to have far reaching and often unforeseen ramifications, this is clearly seen in the widespread breakup of families within our society.

*Please understand that this blog is not being written to shame those currently living in de facto relationships, but to identify a lifestyle choice that in my opinion hinders rather than strengthens the social fabric of our western society.


I believe that our choices as adults and parents are either improving the future prospects for our children or leaving them with a world in a worse condition than the one we inherited from our parents.


A Changing World

When I grew up in the 1960's, Australian society seemed more stable and within it family life felt more secure and dependable. Very few of my friends from school came from single parent or divorced homes and Australians were still shocked and outraged when the news reported that their had been a murder committed somewhere within our nation. Nowadays unfortunately these scenarios are all to common in our society, and are often even accepted now as the norm.


It was a different time, with different values and a greater sense of community and personal responsibility than what we experience now.

It was a different time, with different values and a greater sense of community and personal responsibility than what we experience now. It was culturally expected that young people showed respect to their elders, stood and gave seats to women while travelling on the bus or train and many people opened doors for others, merely out of a sense of courtesy. These behaviours were instilled into my generation and assigned under the heading of being just 'good manners'.


Unfortunately many of the decisions that were made by my generation as they sought for greater moral freedoms have eroded the very foundations that made our society strong and have destabilised the structures that supported the family unit.

A Changing Lifestyle

In Australia at that time, there were major changes in what was acceptable behaviour within our society. The behavioural constraints that previous generations had  accepted as social norms were abandoned by much of this generation and replaced by a lifestyle best described as being morally relative, where if it feels good, do it!


These social changes were also accepted by the government of the time as the new norm, and de facto relationships became the way many young couples began their life together. This arrangement may seem to be a smarter way to find out if the relationship will last before you take the big step of getting married, but brings with it a range of problems and repercussions of its own.


Legally de facto relationships are now seen as similar to marriage and often incur the same costs as those who are being divorced, which often runs into tens of thousands of dollars in disputed settlements. When children are involved and custody is being contested the financial outlay can escalate considerably, but unfortunately the emotional cost to the family can be even more catastrophic.


(John 4:16-18) Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

Jesus in this story indicates that the men that this woman had been living with throughout her life had the status and benefits of a husband, but they lacked the responsibility and commitment required in marriage.

Listed below are just some of the problems that come with de facto relationships:


  • Statistically Speaking de facto relationships are 6 times more likely to breakup than a couple who is married without living together first.

  • The 'try before you buy' mentality failed to realise that many people decide not to get married at all and so continue in what is often an unstable relationship. This unfortunately affects not only themselves but any children that may result from the union.

  • After 2 years in a de facto relationship the legal commitments in relation to property settlements etc. is the same as those within traditional marriage.