What is an initial contribution worth in a long marriage?
Generally, less percentage weight is given to property that spouses had at the commencement of their relationship, the longer their relationship continues. So that, even if parties held significant property at the commence of their relationship, or that property provided a springboard into more assets, the impact of such a contribution has to be assessed and weighed up against the other parties contributions, over the course of many years.
A good example of this occurred in a recent case in the Family Court. The parties were in a marriage for almost 43 years. There were 3 adult children, the husband was aged 71 years while the wife was aged 67 years. The husband sought that he receive an adjustment for the fact that he had owned two properties at the commencement of the relationship, whilst the wife had no assets. Notwithstanding that the two properties were sold shortly after the date of marriage almost 40 years earlier, and for a relatively modest amount. The husband argued that the sale proceeds became the “seed capital” for subsequent property purchases, although it was conceded that there was no direct lineal progression. In the case the Judge refused to allow any percentage adjustment in favour of the husband, stating that in the context of a 43 year marriage with all the many and varied contributions by the parties both ‘direct and indirect’ he was not persuaded that an adjustment was reasonable in the circumstances. In fact the court was critical of the husband overall for his attitude (one which attempted to diminish the wife’s contributions) a person who he had had chosen to spend half his lifetime with.