Parties who have executed binding financial agreements or a prenuptial agreement before they started their relationship would have an easier time dividing the properties once the parties separate or divorce. However, for those parties who don’t have a prenuptial agreement will have to go through the process of a property settlement.
A non-working spouse or de facto partner perhaps feels the most vulnerable when the relationship breaks down. To start with, the non-working spouse is not earning an income and most likely has not contributed financially to the relationship. This vulnerability is perhaps recognized as a reality such that the legislators saw a need to include non-financial contributions as one of the things that a court will consider in making a property settlement order. Section 79(4) of the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) specifies the contributions that the court will consider with respect to married parties while Section 90SM(4) applies to contributions made by de facto partners.
So, the party who renders contributions in the form of parenting duties or the party who stays at home to take care of the children must assert these contributions during the property settlement proceedings. This is so that the court can properly consider the contributions made by each party, whether financial or otherwise, and can make a just and equitable property settlement order.
Parties who stay at home enable the other party to look for employment and earn an income. However, staying at home and taking care of the house and catering to the needs of the children and the spouse/de facto partner is actually a full-time job, albeit without salary. Some would even say that being a homemaker is a 24 hours, seven days a week job. Thus, the protection provided by Section 79(4) and Section 90SM(4) to homemakers is not undeserved.