What does this mean for your family law property settlement?
Clients are often under the assumption that contributing a greater amount financially than their stay at home ex partner will entitle them to a greater percentage of the net assets in their property proceedings.
The recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court in Hoffman confirms the 2013 decision of Kane which held that a spouse who earns more than their former partner, as a result of their special skill, is not entitled to receive a greater percentage from the asset pool. Mr Hoffman claimed the split should be 70:30 in his favour, to recognise the special financial contribution he had made after the shares he invested were very profitable.
The Court rejected Mr Hoffman’s argument and made clear that the concept of ‘special contributions’ was no longer part of Australian law. Interestingly, the Court made a further observation that where special contributions have been applied, it has been in ‘big money cases’ and $10 million (being the asset pool in the case) was not big money. However, in any event the Full Court of Appeal held the concept of ‘special contributions’ should no longer apply, dismissed Mr Hoffman’s appeal and upheld the 50:50 spilt.
The decision in Hoffman and Kane are important as many separated parties often believe they are entitled to a greater percentage of the fruits of their labour (the parties assets), obtained through their skill and hard work than the Court will realistically allow.