Separation After 27 Years!

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Together 27 years & no property settlement!!

 A recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is unusual and may be of interest.

The basic facts were:

  • Two parties were in a same sex de facto relationship for close to twenty-seven years;
  • The parties never intermingled their finances and acquired properties in their own names;
  • The parties were unaware of each other’s financial situation;
  • There were never any joint bank accounts or credit cards;
  • There were no mutual Wills.

The Court held that it was not just and equitable for an alteration of property interests to be considered between the parties.

Whilst in the majority of matters that come before the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia the circumstances will immediately lead to the Court concluding that it is just and equitable to proceed to a property division between the parties, there are cases where it is not just and equitable.

A separation of finances and all of the circumstances relating to each particular relationship must be carefully considered.  Just because people live together in a de facto relationship or indeed are married for a long period of time does not as a matter of course mean that the interests in property that they have will be altered.  In this particular case, one party had net assets of approximately $720,000 whereas the other party had net assets of approximately $1,700,000, there being a disparity of close to $1m.

However, the Court, after considering all of the relevant facts of this particular case, declined to make any order altering the interests in the property owned by either party.

Of course, the party seeking the orders would have felt much aggrieved and, similarly, the party opposing any orders being made would have felt relieved.  This is an example (albeit, an extreme example) of how the recent 2012 High Court case of Stanford has impacted upon decisions for property settlement under the Family Law Act.

Clelands Lawyers are one of the most respected Adelaide law firms who practice in family law. For more information our team will be pleased to assist you, contact Ben Farmer, Victoria Treloar or Shelley O'Connell