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Key decisions

  • Hurst [2018] FamCAFC 146
  • Matenson [2018] FamCAFC 13
  • Pruchnik & Pruchnik (No. 2) [2018] FamCAFC 128
  • Jabour [2018] FCCA 928


In isolating a contribution to a specific asset in a global approach, the Court failed to heed the risk of ignoring contributions that lacked such a nexus

In Hurst [2018] FamCAFC 146 (8 August 2018) the Full Court (Thackray, Ainslie-Wallace & Murphy JJ) heard the wife’s appeal against a property order relating to a 38 year marriage where the husband inherited land 14 years before trial (‘the Suburb C property’). The land was worth $400,000 when acquired but $1.82m at trial. The parties had three children. The youngest child (13) and the eldest, an adult child with psychiatric issues, lived with the wife.

The net pool was worth $2.66m. Carew J assessed contributions at 72.5:27.5 in the husband’s favour, saying (at [14]) that ‘[i]t cannot be said that the wife has made any contribution to … [the inherited land] other than indirectly by the rates and slashing costs being paid’. A 12.5 per cent adjustment under s 75(2) for the wife produced an overall 60:40 division for the husband. The Full Court said (from [15]):

‘Within the context of [a global] approach a broad assessment is made of the contributions of all types made by both parties across the whole of the period of a very long marriage. Yet, the reasons also evidence one exception to that approach, namely the identified indirect (financial) contributions made to the Suburb C property.

[16] There is no error of itself in her Honour considering separately any such contributions …

[17] However, there is a danger in doing so. Isolating indirect contributions to but one part of the property interests of the parties in the context of a global assessment of contributions risks ignoring significant contributions made by both parties that do not have a nexus with that particular property. We consider … that her Honour did not heed that risk. The finding that the wife has not made any contributions to the Suburb C property other than the specific indirect contribution to slashing and rates is, in our … view, not open to her Honour on the evidence before her.’

The Court also discerned error in the trial judge’s assessment of s 75(2) factors (at [57]-[65]) and so allowed the appeal, remitting the case for rehearing.

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