saraWhen parties to a relationship have separated, both parties can continue to make financial and other contributions towards the assets and members of the family. This could involve running a business or being a stay at home parent to care for a child.

This issue was recently raised in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia appeal of Marsh and Marsh [2014] FamCAFC 24.  The parties were married in 1979 and separated in 2000.  The parties were divorced in 2008 and in June 2010, the wife commenced proceedings before the Court for the purposes of dividing the parties’ assets.

There was a period of 10 years between the time the parties separated and the application before the Court. As you could imagine, contributions were made by each of the parties and these had to be considered.

In the first instance, the Court stated that due to the large earning capacity of the husband and his financial contributions since separation, he was entitled to a greater share of the assets than the wife.

The wife appealed this decision on the basis that her contributions of homemaker and parent after separation were not taken into consideration.  Since 2000, the wife had continued her role as mother (the youngest child being 10 at separation) and continued to maintain the home.

The Full Court agreed with the wife that despite the husband’s overwhelming financial contribution, the Court at first instance failed to give any weight to the wife’s contributions as a mother and homemaker.  By the wife continuing that role, the husband was able to make the larger financial contributions.

When adjusting property adjustments at the end of the relationship, the Court must take into account the contributions by both parties at the commencement of the relationship, during the relationship and after the relationship.

If you have any issues in relation to contributions that have been made throughout a relationship, including after separation, you should contact Everingham Solomons because Helping You is Our Business.

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