New research has found that Australian couples still believe signing a marriage certificate is a bigger commitment than signing a property contract.
Almost 1500 Australians were surveyed about their views on relationships for research commissioned by Slater and Gordon family lawyers.
The number of respondents who said marriage was the biggest commitment a couple could make (67 per cent) was more than double the number who said buying property together or moving in together was more significant (28 per cent).
Three per cent nominated opening a joint bank account as the biggest commitment.
Slater and Gordon family lawyer Heather McKinnon said it was clear from the research that commitment meant different things to different couples, even though the law did not discriminate.
“Since 2009, de facto couples have had the same rights and obligations as married couples in Australia,” Ms McKinnon said.
“The law treats couples equally, regardless of whether they chose to get married or live together.
“De facto couples have the same financial responsibilities as married couples and disputes over children or property are treated in the same way as for married couples.
“Likewise, same-sex de facto couples are entitled to the same benefits and subject to the same obligations as opposite-sex couples.
“I have met and represented hundreds of couples over the years – married, de facto and same sex – each of them unique and special in their own way.
“Some people live together first, others decide not to marry at all, some buy property before getting married and others wait until after marriage to open a joint bank account.
“There is no right or wrong when it comes to getting married, buying property or moving in together. At the end of the day, only a couple can decide what is best for them.”