Monday, March 26, 2012

Contribution assessments in family law cases

The posts for the last 2 weeks have focused on the decision from the end of 2011 of Harris.

One final aspect of the case that it is worth highlighting involved the comments made by the Court about the ‘contribution’ that the parties to the marriage, and their respective families, made to growing the asset base during the course of the relationship.

As many will be aware, once the court has determined the property that satisfies the definition of being an ‘asset’ of the marriage and then in turn the property that is a ‘resource’, there is a need to determine the contribution the parties have made to creating the wealth.

In the Harris case, the appeal court expressly directed that in the retrial (which is yet to take place) the judge must be careful to ensure that adequate weight is given to the husband and his parents in terms of building up the value of the business that was owned by the family trust at the centre of the dispute.

This direction was as a result of the initial trial judge’s decision to simply ignore the contribution that had been made by the husband and his parents over many years, both before the marriage and during the course of it.

Until next week.