National Youth Affairs Spokesperson
21 November 2000
Young people caught in Govt's marriage trap
Young people in what the Government deems to be de facto relationships could be caught in a marriage trap under the
Government's proposed new property laws, National Youth Affairs spokesperson Simon Power said during the debate in
"This legislation changes the rights and commitments of an overwhelming majority of adults, especially young people -
without asking them first.
"Young people often have relationships where they may end up living together for three years. For many young people this
is a pretty normal part of life these days and often no long-term commitment is intended by either party. The Government
is turning what is often a practical living arrangement into a marriage, without even inviting the couple to the
"Students living together while studying for convenience sake may be deemed to be in a de facto relationship - they may
live together in a flat for three years, they may have acquired some furniture together, they will have performed
household duties, they may have financial interdependence by way of a joint account and they may have a sexual
"When the couple, or the flatmates, decide to go their separate ways they may end up having to divvy up not only the
furniture but their individual savings accumulated in the relationship period and maybe even their student loan debt!
"This legislation will have a far greater impact than Green MP Keith Locke alleged in Parliament when he said it would
only mean dividing up the CDs.
"There are genuine cases in which protection for de facto couples is needed. However, research shows that most de facto
relationships that are going to break up usually do so within about four years. The Government's three-year timeframe
may catch young people in a trap.
"This legislation will have a huge impact on the lives of young people. They need to take an interest in the
Government's plans before it's too late," Mr Power said.