Practitioner Attitudes to Caring Relationships under the Victorian Relationships Act: An Empirical Study
In Victoria, the Relationships Act 2008 (Vic) provides a registration process for people in caring relationships to register their relationship. If the relationship is registered and then breaks down, the Act provides a mechanism for a property claim to be made. Registration of the relationship also creates eligibility for a family provision claim on death of one of the parties. Of the five Australian jurisdictions which give statutory recognition to caring relationships, Victoria is the only jurisdiction with a mandatory registration requirement.
Despite its beneficial purpose, the registration process is not being adopted. Prior to registration, parties must seek independent legal advice. A requirement for advice can create a barrier to registration. This article reports on the results of a study in which Victorian legal practitioners were surveyed to determine if advice about registration is being sought, and whether practitioners are advising parties to register. As the Act also covers registration of domestic relationships, questions were asked about advice sought for domestic relationships, for comparison purposes.