Even though our relationship may have ended, our financial lives continue on while we wait for a property settlement to occur, and we continue to accumulate income and incur expenses.  In some cases people might purchase and sell assets. Will such financial dealings that occur after separation be included when determining a property settlement?

In August 2015, the topic of post separation contributions came before the Full Court of the Family Court on appeal in the matter of Trask v Westlake [2015] FamCAFC 160. In this matter, the parties had been married for 11 years during which the wife took on the responsibility of caring for the home and the children whilst the husband pursued his corporate career. They separated in 2009 but by the time they commenced proceedings in the Family Court some four years later, the husband had earned approximately $9,000,000.00 through both his income and a redundancy payment he received. This contribution was significantly higher than the assets which existed when the parties had separated.

The husband argued to the Court that he should receive a higher percentage of the total assets of the marriage due to his higher contribution. The Court however awarded the wife 60% of the total asset pool, Their reasons for doing so centred on the wife’s continual contribution, both during the marriage and after separation, through her role as homemaker and parent. By her taking on those roles he was able to focus his time on his career therefore she had indirectly contributed to it. The Court did not consider her contribution to be of any less value than the $9,000,000.00 that he had earned.

This case indicates how the Court will possibly treat post separation contributions and also the importance of finalising a property settlement as quickly as possible.

Please note the answers provided are for your general information only and we ask you to call our office on 02 6331 2911 to obtain detailed legal advice for your individual situation.

Lauren Ryan | Family Law Solicitor