Mother and Daughter 30 Years

Mother awarded for parenting after 20 years

Wife awarded significant adjustment for caring for daughter 20 years after separation!

In the recent case of Orchide [2017] FCCA 1833 Judge Bender considered a marriage between a couple who had been together 20 years, then separated for a further 20 years. They had a daughter who was 9 years old at the time of separation and who continued to live with the wife in the former matrimonial home. The home was worth $230,000 at separation, but $1,325,000 at trial.

At trial the Judge declined to make any adjustment of property that had been obtained by the parties from their own efforts following separation, including superannuation. The only asset to be adjusted between the parties was the former matrimonial home.

The wife argued that when the husband left the former matrimonial home, the responsibility for the care of the parties’ then 9 year old daughter fell on her.

Whilst agreeing that he did not pay child support for their daughter, the husband argued that in allowing the wife to continue to reside in the former matrimonial home and not pursuing property settlement whilst the daughter completed her studies, he was providing substantial assistance to the daughter and to the wife. This argument was rejected by the Court.

The Court held that the wife had the sole financial responsibility for almost all of the daughter’s care after the parties separated. She also provided almost all of the daughter’s physical and emotional care given the husband spent very little time with her. The wife also maintained the former matrimonial home with some small assistance from the husband.

On this basis the Court was satisfied that the wife made a significantly greater contribution than the husband post-separation and that there should be an adjustment in her favour. The wife was awarded the majority of the assets.

Jacqueline Conquest, Principal, Accredited Family Law Specialist