Two approaches to sharing assets and liabilities that can be used in Perth Family Law matters are the global and “asset-by-asset” approaches. A combination of these approaches can be used.
The global approach places the assets and liabilities in one asset pool and considers what percentage of that asset pool each person is entitled to.
An asset by asset looks at different assets separately.
In Stiller and Power  FMCAfam 996, the parties were married for 20 years but never lived together and kept their finances very separate. When separating, the husband’s assets were worth $315 000 and the wife’s $4 million.
The husband requested a global approach and the wife, an asset-by-asset. As the couple had kept their finances so separate, the court used an asset-by-asset approach and no adjustments were made.
Several factors may also influence how assets are split after separation.
The case of IABH v HRBH  FamCA 110 suggested that an age gap between the parties can be a factor.
The husband was 83 and the wife was 57. The judge quoted matters relating to the health and life expectancy of the parties, amongst others, when adjusting the property interests by 15 percent in favour of the wife.
Terminal Illness and Splitting Assets
In family law, dividing assets between a separating couple can require a court to consider the future needs of each of the parties.
In the case of Lawrie v Lawrie (1981) FLC 91-102 where the husband had cancer, the court held the view that where it is established that the future financial needs of a party will terminate upon the happening of a definite future event, it is proper to take that into account.
This can include things such as inheritance, but also diagnoses of terminal illness and may impact the final proportion of the assets allocated to each party.
In the more recent case of Fontana v Fontana  FamCAFC 11, the court arguably confirmed that it was relevant to consider the husband’s renal failure and uncertainty regarding getting a transplant as a factor affecting his financial needs in the future.
Dividing Assets and Lottery Winnings
Lottery winnings can complicate the division of assets when separating. The court may try to determine the extent of the contribution made by each party.
In Elford & Elford  FamCAFC 45 the husband had a significant lottery win. The wife argued it should be considered a joint asset, though the husband said it was his sole contribution.
The court considered how separate the parties kept their finances throughout the relationship, having never shared a bank account, as well as the short length of time the couple had been together when the husband won.
Ultimately, they found that the wife had not contributed enough to either purchasing the lottery ticket, or the marriage as a whole, to earn a significant share of the winnings when diving assets.
Property settlement can be complex. We invite you to discuss your particular matter with our Legal Practitioner Director Shannon Bodeker, who has been working almost exclusively in family law for over 20 years.
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Please note this is not family law advice. It is important to seek advice specific to your circumstances. We can provide you with the very best legal advice regarding property settlement.
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