Which case won?

casea
The case for the husband
  • I funded almost the entire cost of our family home, even using all of the $200,000 compensation pay out I received before we began living together
  • I also raised additional money to buy the family home.
  • In addition to working full time and supporting the family financially, I maintained the home, helped with raising our children and helped with household chores.
  • Since our separation, even though I care for the children most of the time, I have not been paid any child support.
  • I understand that our financial and non-financial contributions were considered equal while we were living together. However, this should not have eclipsed my much greater initial financial contribution to buying the home or the financial contribution to raising our children since we separated.
  • I believe that the court’s decision was plainly unjust and inequitable.
caseb
The case for the wife
  • In addition to working full time or part time for over half of the time we lived together, I did most of the housework and cared for the children.
  • I do not have qualifications to get a well-paid job, so I don’t have enough money to pay child support.
  • Since we separated I care for the children some of the time.
  • I understand that our financial and non-financial contributions were considered equal while we were living together.
  • My husband’s greater financial contribution to buying the family home and to supporting our children has already been taken into account by the trial judge by awarding my husband a greater share of the marital assets.
  • I believe that the result was just and equitable.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out
Case A Case B

Case A won. You were right!

How people voted
a54%
b46%

Expert commentary on the court's decision

Rita FisherManaging Director
“The Appeal Court noted that there is an obligation on a trial judge not only to identify the relevant contributions, but also to assess what weight they should be given. In this case the trial judge failed to assess these contributions adequately, or at all.”
Appeal Court finds in favour of husband

In the case Pierce & Pierce [1998] FamCA 74, the Full Court of the Family Court determined that the appeal should be allowed.

The Appeal Court noted that there is an obligation on a trial judge not only to identify the relevant contributions of the husband and wife, but also to assess what weight they should be given. In this case the trial judge failed to assess these contributions adequately, or at all.

Specifically, he failed to give sufficient weight to the greater initial financial contribution of the husband and to his ongoing contributions post separation in caring for the children. Further, the trial judge appeared not to have had regard to the use made by the parties of the husband’s greater initial contribution by buying the family home.

In assessing the respective contributions of the parties from the commencement of cohabitation to the date of hearing as being 55% by the husband and 45% by the wife, the discretion vested in the judge had miscarried and therefore the appeal should be allowed.

Appeal Court recalculates asset split

The Appeal Court found that weighing the initial contributions of the husband and his post separation contributions with all other relevant contributions by both the husband and the wife resulted in an apportionment of their marital assets of 70 per cent to the husband and 30 per cent to the wife.

The court placed particular emphasis on the husband’s ongoing responsibility for the care and accommodation of two young children with little, if any, child support from the wife. This factor resulted in a further five percent adjustment of the asset split in favour of the husband, so that the husband received 75 per cent of the asset pool and the wife received 25 per cent.

Court not bound by parameters set by the parties to the property settlement

What makes this case somewhat unusual is that the Appeal Court granted the husband a larger portion of the assets than he had sought when he lodged the appeal.

In doing so, the court noted that it has the discretion to make whatever orders it finds to be appropriate and that it is not bound by the parameters set by the parties themselves.

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