Shared property an issue in recent separation case

Date: Feb 27, 2015

As with a married couple, de facto partnerships can involve financial settlements once the relationship has ended. Often, these negotiations are complicated by the fact that those in a de facto partnership will not have a relationship that has been formalised in the same way as a marriage. In turn, this can lead to further disputes, over issues like when a couple began cohabiting.

In a recent case before the Family Court of Australia, this issue of when a relationship began was a central part of the financial settlement between two individuals who had been in a de facto partnership.

The case involved a couple who had been in a relationship between 2005 and early 2011, during which time they had never married. Although there was no dispute regarding the end of the relationship, the parties could not agree on the date they began cohabiting.

This dispute had further implications for the financial settlement the pair were also seeking to have resolved through legal action. The man contested that he had made substantial contributions to the success of his former partner's business, as well as making payments towards her mortgage. 

Because the couple didn't have a binding financial agreement in place, there was also no existing process of determining how their shared assets ought to be split in the event of a separation.

As a result, the man sought an increase in his allocation of assets to better reflect his investment in the relationship. He also appealed to have certain assets added back to the balance sheet of the pair's shared possessions in order to better reflect the assets the couple shared together.

In the end, the courts agreed with the wife's version of events that the relationship had begun at the end of 2005, rather than at the start of the year, as the man had contested.

However, the courts also ruled that the man was entitled to a further allowance from the shared balance of the pair's relationship. 

For others in the process of going through a divorce financial settlement, or who are separating from a de facto relationship, it is important to seek the advice of a family lawyer. Especially in cases like this one where no binding financial agreement was in place, having the right legal advice is essential for ensuring that both parties receive what they are entitled to through this process.