Family lawyers are often asked about the share of property a party will be entitled to at the end of a short relationship, especially where one party has substantial assets at the start and makes overwhelming financial contributions.
The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia recently considered an appeal where, after a 5 year marriage, the wife was awarded 40% of the value of certain assets when
- the husband contributed the whole of the purchase price of the main asset, a farming property; and
- the value of the property increased significantly during marriage by virtue of market forces.
The husband’s appeal has been allowed and the matter remitted for a re-hearing.
Short relationships are generally those of less than 5 years’ duration.
In short marriage cases, the Family Court
- focuses on the financial contributions made by each party but as a rule does not adopt a mathematical approach;
- will generally consider contributions on an asset by asset basis rather than globally;
- may not make any adjustment to the parties’ assets if substantial benefits are conferred on one party during cohabitation;
- will take into account such factors as whether the parties kept their assets separately and how each dealt with their assets during cohabitation and after separation;
- will take into account contributions made after separation;
- consider whether there was any agreement between the parties as to how their assets would be dealt with if they separated; and
- may, in an appropriate case, order maintenance rather than adjust property interests.
The circumstances of each case are likely to be different and comparisons with other short marriage cases, may not always be helpful. No two cases are exactly the same.
If you have a query about entitlements in short relationship cases, then you should contact one of our experienced family lawyers on (08) 9322 8000.