The wife commenced a case for property settlement, knowing that the husband has spent huge amount of money to the second respondent.
The husband is 53 years of age, a legal professional while the wife is accordingly 52 years of age, a qualified teacher. They got married in 1984. The husband asserts that, albeit under the one roof, the parties separated in 1997.
The wife asserts that the parties cohabited until late 2007. The cohabitation for 23 or 13 years duration, depending upon which party’s version of events is preferred. There are two children of the marriage, T born in February 1988 and L born in October 1994. The children are respectively aged 24 and 17 years.
The second respondent is 40 years of age, the partner of the husband. They had a de facto relationship with the second respondent in about October 2007. There is one child of that relationship, F, 2 years and 10 months old.
The evidence does not reveal, and no party asserts, that at the date of marriage either party had materially greater assets than the other. What the parties currently have is what their efforts subsequent to their marriage have produced.
The wife may have had assets worth slightly more than those of the husband at the date of marriage, but, on any view of it, their combined assets at that time were modest. During their union properties were acquired.
In December 2006 the husband accepted a transfer to Europe with company E. In his absence, the wife managed the rental of the Suburb Z properties. In about September 2007, the husband was transferred to European Country AA by Company E. In October 2007 the husband commenced living in a de facto relationship in Europe with the second respondent. In about November 2007, the husband and wife informed their children T and L that they were separating.
1. Whether or not the wife is entitled to property rights even if she was unemployed during the marriage?
2. Whether or not the wife is entitled to spousal maintenance?
On the first issue the court ruled that:
- The wife shall be entitled to 50 per cent of the conjugal property which is currently available. Despite the fact that the husband has better-earning capability than the wife, but the wife was the primary carer of the children during the marriage, hence, she is entitled to proprietary rights under the law.
The husband is also bound to support the minor child of the wife and likewise the child of the second respondent.
On the second spousal maintenance, the court ruled that:
- On balance, and accepting that the exercise is necessarily artificial and arbitrary to some extent, the court concludes that, potentially for a period of 12 months, the wife should continue to receive the $3,000 per month by way of spousal maintenance which the husband is currently paying.
The wife’s evidence raises the prospect that she may require 12 months in order to re-train, or otherwise revive her teaching qualifications, and be able to secure employment. At the end of 12 months, if the wife seeks to extend the payment of spousal maintenance, she will need to make and prosecute an application for such relief, and satisfy the requirements of s 75(2) of the Act if she is able to obtain further relief.
The orders of the Court in relation to the parties’ Type D boat could result in the wife receiving approximately $240,000 upon completion of its sale. Once those funds are received, the wife could no longer satisfy the threshold requirements of s 72 of the Act. The order for interim spousal maintenance in her favour should then be discharged.
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 when contemplating a separation or soon after a relationship comes to an end. It is noted that publication of this judgment by this Court under the pseudonym Sutton & Sutton and Anor has been approved by the Chief Justice pursuant to s 121(9)(g) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
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.