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Appeal dismissed with costs. Why you need to understand the nuance of the holistic assessment of contributions.

Thursday 11th February 2021

By: Georgina Gregory

The trial judge ordered that the parties’ property be divided 78/22% in favour of the Husband.   

The Wife appealed against those orders. At the trial,  the wife was 47 and the husband 64.  They had both been previous married and had children from those previous relationships, all of whom were adults by the time the case came to trial.  The parties began living together in 2009, married in 2010 and had a child in 2011.  The child was aged 7 at the time of the trial. 

In 2017 the parties separated, after an 8 year relationship.  The parenting proceedings resulted in orders that the child live with the Wife for 9 nights per fortnight and the Husband for 5 nights per fortnight. 

 At the trial, the Wife contended that the Husband had been physically and sexually abusive to her and argued that Kennon v Kennon [1997] principles applied, making her contributions to the relationship more onerous than otherwise. The trial judge did not accept that this was established on the evidence   

The Husband made allegations that the Wife had gambled excessively during the relationship and lost a large amount of money.  The Wife disputed this, saying her children had used her money to gamble, not her.  This argument was rejected by the trial judge, who concluded that the Wife had made a nett loss of about $40,000 from gambling. 

The agreed balance sheet at the trial was for net assets of $3,634,582, including Z property ($2,840,000)  L property ($1,800,000) and J property ($145,000).

When assessing the parties’ contributions, the trial judge identified that:

-          W brought in J property, which was valued at $145,000 at cohabitation.

-          H brought in Z property and L property, with estimated values then of $1,972,300 (Z property) and $1,250,000 (L property).

So the trial judge assessed H’s contributions at cohabitation as $1.5m and value of W’s contributions at cohabitation at $195,000 – and therefore the H’s financial contributions were far greater than W’s at the date of cohabitation.

The trial judge determined that the parties had contributed equally since the date of cohabitation and up until separation.

When assessing contributions, the trial judge concluded that these should be valued as to 85/15% in favour of the Husband.

The trial judge then considered s75(2) factors and determined that there should be a 7% adjustment in the Wife’s favour.

Therefore, overall, the division of property ordered was 78/82% in favour of the Husband.

In her appeal, the Wife contended that the trial judge had erred in 3 main ways:

a)      The finding that the wife’s had made a contribution of 15% to the net assets, did not reflect that her contributions had conserved the husband’s properties;

-          The Full Court rejected this argument – not reflected in the evidence

-          Even though she helped with the farming duties, not possible to conclude that H’s properties would be unviable without her efforts.


b)      The finding of equal contributions during cohabitation was not reflected in the outcome ;

-          Full Court rejected this as well.  “The holistic assessment process requires the myriad of contributions to be identified and weighed.


c)      Trial judge had not assessed contributions holistically; but had quarantined pre-cohabitation contributions. 

-          Full Court disagreed.  Trial judge did not undertake a ‘mathematical exercise.’ In putting a percentage figure (13%) on wife’s initial contribution, TJ was attempting to gauge the materiality of each party’s contributions.

-          TJ did not quarantine parties’ initial contributions

-          Unlike in Jabour, TJ did not isolate the H’s contribution of the farming properties from the myriad of other contributions – nor did the FJ try to find a nexus between the parties’ contributions and certain items of property

-          Jabour involved a long marriage of 24 years.  The length of a relationship “informs the holistic assessment of contributions. Here, the parties relationship subsisted for a little less than 8 years.



No ground of appeal made out.  Appeal dismissed with costs.

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