Non financial contributions (homemaker) property settlement

A non-financial contributions during a short relationship will be taken into account when determining the parties’ overall entitlements in a property settlement dispute, particularly if there are no children involved.

Figgins and Figgins (2002) FLC ¶93-122

In this case, the parties cohabited for nearly seven years and had a young child who lived with the wife. Neither party had any significant assets at the commencement of the relationship. However, the husband’s net worth at the end of the relationship was $22.5m as a result of an inheritance early in the marriage. The wife’s liabilities exceeded her assets.

The trial judge awarded the wife $600,000 for contributions and $500,000 for s 75(2) factors. The Full Court held this manifestly inadequate and by a majority gave the wife $2.5million, which was slightly more than 10% of the husband’s net worth.

Fogarty and Lindenmayer JJ said:

“The important aspect of this case is that the wife contributed fully to the task of wife and homemaker. The circumstances that the husband may have made almost equivalent contributions does not mean that they cancel each other out but the approach of treating them as virtually cancelling each other out had the effect of leaving the other party’s financial contributions as the only ones to be counted as significant. This seems to have happened here, leaving the wife’s case apparently largely dependent upon peripheral matters.”

GBT v BJT [2005] FamCA 683

This case involved a 6 ½ year period of cohabitation with a total property pool of $3 million. The wife was awarded a 7.5% contribution based adjustment. She made very little financial contribution to the relationship. However, the adjustment was based on non-financial contributions.

Lambert & Jackson [2010] FamCA 357

In this case, the husband and wife began cohabiting in March 2003 and married in January 2004. Twins of the marriage were born in November 2004. The parties separated on 24 March 2006 and divorced on 6 July 2007. At the commencement of the relationship, the wife contributed assets worth $569,549 plus furniture. The husband contributed assets worth $133,723 plus a UK property and 2 business partnerships. During cohabitation and marriage, the wife brought in rental income, loans from her mother at favourable conditions and gifts from her mother. The wife was virtually the sole caretaker of the twins from the time of their birth. Post-separation, the husband had very little contact with the twins.

The value of the husband’s business increased from $300,000 at the date of separation to $2,327,000 at the date of the hearing, without direct contribution from the wife. However, it was noted that the business structure had been established during the marriage and that the increase in value was “in some ways, something of a windfall”. The Court held that the wife was entitled to a 55/45 split of net assets in her favour. It stated as follows:

“It is relevant in this case to bear in mind the short period of time over which the wealth has been generated by the husband and what the wife was doing during that period by way of contributions in her role as parent.”