RECENT FAMILY MATTERS
Post separation redundancy treated in de facto property settlement
Our family law client was a divorced male in his 50’s, and a father of 2 adult children from his previous marriage. In his mid-40’s he entered into a relationship with a single mother of then teenage children (Applicant). They were in a relationship for approximately 8 years. During this time they kept their day to day finances separate, however after 3 years living together they purchased a house as joint tenants. The couple also entered into a joint self-managed superannuation fund together. Our client was a long term employee with the same employer for approximately 15 years prior to meeting the Applicant and continued with the same company in senior positions until after the relationship ended. The Applicant was working casual and part time hours and was a low income earner. With his stronger financial position, our client made a significantly larger portion of the financial contributions during the relationship. He also made non-financial contributions by cooking and maintaining the home.
Our client had some health issues which developed as the relationship was ending and resulted in an extensive period of sick leave post the relationship breaking down. Our client was made redundant two years after the relationship breakdown and, due to the deterioration in his health, he had a severely reduced capacity for future employment.
The Applicant sought a 50/50 split of their combined assets and liabilities and for the redundancy payout to be included in the property settlement. Our client argued that his redundancy payout should not form part of the property settlement and sought a 60/40 split of their combined assets and liabilities excluding his redundancy payout. There was also a dispute over the non-financial contributions of each party, our client maintained that it was evenly split while the Applicant claimed she was the primary non-financial contributor in the relationship.
The matter went to trial as the parties could not come to an agreement. The Judge ordered that the redundancy payout be apportioned so that 8/23rds be included in the net assets available for a split (reflecting their relationship lasting 8 years of our client’s 23 years of employment). The Judge found that our client made a greater financial contribution and that both parties made equal non-financial contributions.
The payout ordered by the Judge of our client to the Applicant was approximately half of what the Applicant had originally sought, and was within the range that we had estimated to our client would be payable to the Applicant at trial. A successful outcome for this family law client.