a spouse maintenance claim must be initiated within 12 months from the time the divorce
In the Herald news recently is an ex-wife denied from claiming a bill for renovations amounting to $36,000 made by her ex-husband on the properties of the latter’s lover. The claim was initiated by the ex-husband during his lifetime. The affair ended and prior to his death, the ex-husband filed for reimbursement.
The ex-husband and his lover had a four year relationship. He moved in with his lover at around 2005 and the affair ended after he suffered a seizure which is said to be a “prelude to his death”. The ex-husband died of brain tumour.
Upon his death, the ex-wife pursued the claim and presented to the Family Court in Brisbane several receipts as proof of the expenses of her ex-husband during the relationship. In denying the claim of the ex-wife, the Court, through Justice Murphy held that it is only “just and equitable” not to make a property settlement against the lover of the ex-husband.
It must be remembered that divorce dissolves marriage ties between the husband and wife. Except to the extent of spouse maintenance which continues even after divorce, a wife no longer has a claim on the properties of the husband after the dissolution of the marriage.
A spouse maintenance claim must be initiated within 12 months from the time the divorce becomes final but the husband and wife in this case separated way back in 2004. It can be assumed that the parties have already settled any property and maintenance issues at the time of their separation. In this instance, the ex-wife does not have the legal personality to claim for reimbursement.
The fact that four properties were bought by the lover during the relationship would have entitled the ex-husband to a property settlement had he lived. He could have contended that a de facto relationship existed.
Section 4AA of the Family Law 1975 defines a de facto relationship as one that exists between a person and a former partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, and they live together on a genuine domestic basis. The couple must not be legally married or related to each other. According to the same law, actions for financial orders in a de facto relationship must be initiated within 2 years from separation. When the ex-husband died, his claim for property settlement died with him.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.