Husband Keeps Pre-Marital Home And Wife Shares In His Debts

father and child

A recent matrimonial property case, in which our client was successful, shows the importance of proving contributions in short relationships and showing the court that debts incurred after separation can – if argued properly and skilfully – be included in the parties’ joint balance sheet.

Our client, the husband and father, had been married to his wife for only two-and-a-half years, but separated under the one roof for about three years.  The parties had one child, aged about three at Trial.  Our client came into the relationship with a property in his sole name and made the majority of the financial contributions.  Despite that, coupled with the short length of the relationship, the wife wanted approximately 50% of the net asset pool.  Of great concern to our client, the wife also wanted to have the property transferred to her, despite making minimal contributions to it.

Our client had incurred significant debts post-separation and we sought to have those included in the asset pool.  Our case was that, given the significant financial contributions made by our client prior to and during the relationship, he should retain the majority of the pool.

The wife’s case was, in part, that the debts incurred by the husband post-separation should not be included in the asset pool.  She asserted she had made significant financial contributions during the relationship and would have the ongoing care of the child.  However, the parties had already agreed that the husband would spend substantial and significant time with the child as he got older.

The judge accepted our client’s evidence in respect of his financial contributions.  Given the detailed and carefully presented evidence we adduced to show the nature of the debts owing by our client to his brothers, and how those monies were applied post-separation, the judge included them in the property pool.  

Ultimately, our client retained 70% of the total net asset pool.  Most importantly, he was able to keep his property he had bought years before even meeting his former wife.

For the full judgement, see http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FamCA/2016/24.html

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