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Property settlement

Family Court determines how to assess contributions

By July 10, 2019February 23rd, 2024No Comments

A recent case heard in the Full Court of the Family Court has made findings in relation to how to assess contributions.

In the case of Jabour [2019] FamCAFC 78, the Husband had owned a half interest in 3 parcels of land at the time the parties were married. After 11 years of marriage, he sold his interests. By that time, the properties had been rezoned for residential use and sold for over $10 million. The Husband had purchased them for only $26,000 in 1975.

At first instance, the trial Judge determined that as the Husband had brought the properties into the relationship, and that he should receive a significant acknowledgment of this when assessing contributions. The Wife appealed this decision and the Full Court agreed with her and set aside the judgment.

The Full Court commented that the weight to be attached to an initial contribution must be assessed against the rubric of all of the contributions, both financial and non-financial, made by the parties over the course of the relationship and in particular in this matter, their long marriage. The Full Court found that there was a sudden increase in the value of the property after it was rezoned, but that was unrelated to the efforts of the parties. The authorities point to that increase being a contribution by both parties, similar to if there was a lottery win.

The Full Court assessed contributions at 53% to the Husband and 47% to the Wife but commented that the significance of the Husband’s initial contributions at the time of the marriage had been largely lost “given the myriad of the contributions by each of the parties to their various business ventures, through their employment and care of the family over a long relationship, including the contributions made to the retention of the property… There is no doubt that they both worked hard and over many years they both contributed to the full extent of their capacity within the roles each took within the marriage.”

You can read the full case here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FamCAFC/2019/78.html

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