In a divorce property settlement
Sydney, NSW -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/27/2013 -- In the case of Bevan & Bevan (2013) The Family Court of Appeal tackles the unique property settlement dispute of a couple who have lived apart for 18 years but prior to their separation the husband told the wife that she could retain all their Australian properties while he builds a life elsewhere.
The parties were married in 1972 and started to live apart in 1994. The husband executed a special power of attorney which gave the wife the authority to deal with the properties as she saw fit and there were some losses and gains from the investments she made over the years. Despite their separation, the husband still made financial and intellectual inputs to the properties of the couple. They continued to travel as a family and the funds for their trips were taken from the wife’s properties. The husband has a current partner and to that partnership he contributes a certain amount of money to cover costs of board and lodging.
After their divorce, the husband filed an action for property settlement on July 20, 2011. The Honorable Jordan AJ found that the husband conducted himself in a way that is inconsistent with his statement of breaking free from the wife. That the husband deposited to the couple’s account in Australia proceeds from the sale of his shares and his inheritance from his mother were found to be acts that are inconsistent with the notion that he was leading a separate life.
The trial Judge found that the contributions of the parties between 1972 and 1994 were equal but granted a 10% adjustment in favor of the wife in consideration for the events that transpired after 1994. The trial Judge then declared that a 60:40 division of the assets would be just and equitable.
The wife appealed the decision. The appeal was resolved by Full Court composed of the Honorable Bryant CJ, Finn and Thackray JJ. The primary issue in the appeal is whether the trial Judge erred in concluding it was just and equitable to alter existing property interests when the parties lived apart for 18 years and considering that the husband told the wife she could retain their properties.
In deciding the appeal, the Full Court referred to Section 79 of the Family Law Act which provides for alteration of property interests and the four stage process in division of assets in property settlement. The Full Court found that the representations of each party before or after separation were relevant in determining whether it was just and equitable to alter the property interests of the parties. Thus, the appeal was allowed by the Full Court. It was proposed to stand the appeal over pending the receipt of submissions by the parties and their counsels.
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