A Family Court judge has sought to sweepingly redefine the concept of “family,” ruling that a gay couple who never lived together were still in a de facto relationship, commenting that “all families are different.”
A gay man, whose name cannot be published but is known as Mr Bocca, is facing a claim to his considerable assets after a judge ruled in favour of his ex-partner, known as Mr Martens. Mr Bocca told the judge that he never considered his boyfriend as a “life partner”.
The two men reportedly never lived together, never sought legal recognition of their relationship, never applied to adopt children, and did not even remain monogamous. Nevertheless, Family Court Judge Robert Benjamin considered that enough evidence was available to convince him that the two men were undoubtedly in a de facto relationship. The Australian reported:
“Over a period of about 3½ months, they exchanged about 11,240 text messages, at the rate of 100 text messages a day,” the judge noted. “They communicated with each other from morning to night.”
“Many of the exchanges were “three-way conversations” with Mr Bocca’s sister, and these, too, were “very frank and sexualised”.
Judge Benjamin was not dissuaded that the relationship between the men was not a monogamous one. He said:
“Clearly, this couple had a broad approach to sexual contact, however I am satisfied that where and when it occurred it was done with the knowledge of the other and at times with the participation of the other.”
Under The Family Law Act, a partner in a de facto relationship can make a claim on the other’s estate when the relationship breaks down. They do not need to live together to be considered “domestic partners”. In this case, the fact that Mr Martens slept at Mr Bocca’s house at least once a week – a relationship Mr Bocca is reported to have described as “friends with benefits” – was sufficient to have them viewed as a “family” by the Family Court, and for their relationship to fall under the Family Law Act.
The judge’s claim that “all families are different” is a worrying sign. What other types of relationships will be classified as “families” if marriage is redefined?
What do you think? Should legal partnerships such as this be treated as on par with traditional marriage?