A judge has ruled that a man and woman living together for 14 years as housemates and ‘friends with benefits’ did not have a defacto relationship. Source: Getty Images
HAVING regular sex with a housemate does not mean you’re in a “relationship” – even if it last a decade, a WA judge has ruled. 2012FCWA0068anon_Markhov v Shelley
Family Court Judge Jane Crisford entered into the “friends with benefits” debate when she ruled that a man and woman who had regular sex as friends over a 14 year period were not in a de-facto relationship.
Judge Crisford said it didn’t matter that the pair had been living in the same house, socialised on occasions and initially took short holidays together because they essentially lived separate lives.
“He continued to associate with her as it was a convenient and uncomplicated arrangement,” she said.
“On one level they were companions and could co-exist amicably – in common parlance, they were friends with benefits.
“(He) was simply biding his time. For a reduced rent he had some domestic tasks performed for him. He had a companion when it suited him and he had sex when the need arose.”
The court was asked to define the relationship as part of a property dispute between the housemates, who cannot be identified and are referred to as “Mikhail Markhov and Kanya Shelley” by the judge.
In total, Dr Markhov had 10 properties while Ms Shelley owned five. This included a property they bought together in 2006.
The application was lodged in the WA Family Court a few months before Dr Markhov married another woman in 2009.
Ms Shelley, a registered nurse, moved in to Dr Markhov’s unit as his tenant in 1995, a few years after they had met.
A few months later she then bought her own unit in the same complex and Dr Markhov, a scientist, then moved into that unit with her as a tenant while his home was being renovated.
Over the years the pair bought other properties and resided in them together as landlord and tenant. At times they did live on their own, or had family or friends stay with them, and even travelled for extensive periods, but for the majority of the 14 years, they shared a house.
Ms Shelley claimed over that time the pair were in a “committed and marriage-like” relationship and even slept together “every night”.
However Dr Markhov claimed their relationship was platonic, and at first denied they even had sex.
He later admitted that he did have sex with Ms Shelley in most of the houses they shared but justified his actions by saying he had “needs”.
He also said over that time period he was actively looking for a life-partner who was “culturally compatible” on dating websites and had even went overseas to meet women.
In dismissing the case, Judge Crisford said while she found some of Dr Markhov’s attitudes “dishonorable” she was not satisfied there was a marriage-like relationship between the pair.
She said she had no doubt Dr Markhov “made use” of Ms Shelley and was simply “biding his time”.
He never intended to have a long term relationship with her, she added.
Judge Crisford also said Ms Shelley benefited from the arrangement in much the same way and disputed her claims they were involved in an exclusive, marriage-like relationship.
“There was never a period of time of the requisite length that these parties were in a relationship in the nature of marriage. I accept there were times when the parties were more fond of and closer to each other but I do not accept they were ever in a marriage-like relationship,” she said.