Property Settlement in a Short Marriage

9 November 2010

The shorter the length of a marriage, the closer the examination of the parties’ relevant ‘financial contributions’ in a property settlement will be, particularly if there are no children involved. The Court will specifically look at significant initial contributions, as well as financial contributions during the marriage, when deciding the property division.

In a situation where one partner has made all the initial contributions in a short marriage – how does the Court make adjustments for the contributions made by the other partner?

There is no fixed percentage adjustment for non-financial and financial contributions, this will depend on the circumstances of the marriage. However, a recent case has noted that even though a general rate of contribution adjustment of between 5% and 7.5% has been made in short marriage cases, the outcome of these adjustments will be significantly different depending on the size of the property pool. The Court emphasised in a recent case that the dollar value of the adjustments should be considered, as a 5% adjustment of a large property pool could be worth more than a 7% adjustment of a smaller property pool.

How has the Court previously weighted the contributions in short marriages?

  • 6 ½ years of cohabitation with a property pool of $3 million – the Husband made substantial initial contributions, while the Wife made no initial contributions and used her income for her own purposes. There were no children of the relationship and her contribution in the marriage was that of a homemaker. As a result 7.5% contribution adjustment was made for the Wife.
  • 6 year marriage with a property pool of $10 million. The Wife received a 5% adjustment for her financial contributions in the marriage.
  • 4 year marriage with all property acquired before the relationship. The Husband had property valued at $3 million and the Wife had property valued at $117,000. The Court made a contribution based adjustment in favour of the Wife of 10% of the Husband’s property, as well as keeping all of her property.

The Court recently discussed these previous cases where adjustments were made in short marriages and then decided whether an adjustment should be made in the following case:

The Facts:

  • The Husband aged, 61 and the Wife, aged 50 lived together for 1 year before they were married for 6 years.
  • The Wife was from the Philippines and after she had lived together with the Husband in Australia for 1 year, she returned to the Philippines to obtain a spouse visa for permanent residence in Australia.
  • The couple was married in the Philippines and then the Husband returned to Australia. The Wife returned 7 months later and lived with the Husband for 5 years before they separated.
  • The Husband and Wife had a property pool of $1.35 million. The Husband proposed that he receive 90% of the pool, however the Wife proposed that he receive 80% of the pool and she receive 20%.
  • The Husband contributed all the initial contribution of the marriage. When the couple commenced living together, the Husband was the owner of 3 properties which they later sold. The proceeds of one of the properties were used to buy their joint property valued at $510,000.
  • The Husband claimed that the Wife used her income for her own purposes and gambled away significant amounts of money.
  • The Husband also stated that she did not do any house work. However, the Wife also argued that the Husband did no house work.

Court Found:

  • The Court was not satisfied that either of the Husband’s or Wife’s versions was correct and did not make any adjustment based on ‘post-separation’ contributions, after the relationship.
  • Taking into account previous contribution adjustments in other cases, the Court found the rate of adjustment was between 5% and 7.5%, however the Judge noted that the property pool was greater than some of the previous cases.

Court Order:

  • The Wife received a 5% adjustment ($77,500) for ‘future needs’ because of the disparity in capital positions and 10% for ‘non-financial and financial contributions.’
  • The Wife received a total of 15% of the property pool, while the Husband receive 85%.
Property Settlement in a Short Marriage

Call us Today on

(07) 3221 4300

or send us your question and we’ll get
back to you as soon as possible.

Yes, I'd like to subscribe to the Michael Lynch Newsletter.

In submitting this information I confirm that I agree
with Michael Lynch Family Lawyers privacy policy.

Client Testimonials

Helen’s communication with me was exceptional, I knew exactly what was happening
AA, Eatons Hill
The professionalism and reliability delivered by Amy Honan was fantastic. I had an urgent matter around my property sale and Amy offered to provide assistance over a weekend if I required it – that’s above and beyond!
E.F. Nundah
So pleased to have had a good, sound and knowledgeable firm
CW, Brookfield
I really liked the personable service by Michael, the simple plain language he adopts and his patience
AO, North Brisbane
Elizabeth was very helpful
FP, Kangaroo Point
Amy, thanks very much to you and your team. Throughout my dealings with MLFL I have been continually impressed with your level of professionalism and in particular your understanding of circumstances and the articulate way you conduct yourself. I was completely satisfied with today’s outcome and without your experience and expertise in family law I doubt that the result would have been achieved.
MR, West End
I always felt that the service provided by Michael Lynch Family Lawyers was of a high standard. Each time, after appointments I came away feeling secure. Keep doing what you are and maintain the ‘family feel’ that permeates your services.
CW, Brookfield
Amy’s work was extremely professional but above all she has a manner and wisdom in dealing with people under stress. I will be recommending your firm to anyone that requires assistance.
KH, Augustine Heights
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers always gave me competent and knowledgeable advice. I was always given the best advice and I was consistently kept up to date. The meetings and phone calls were kept business-like, yet caring and thoughtful of my emotional state at the time. Thank you.
J.S. Holland Park
Your newsletters are great, I appreciate them
KB, Carina
I liked my solicitor keeping things as simple as possible
SM, Clayfield
Clare acted with professionalism in all her dealings with me and with the lawyer on the other side. I was always kept in the loop. I liked Clare’s approach. Thanks.
D.S. Coorparoo
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers have really listened to me. I felt confident my case was handled well. The law has changed recently and I did not feel that a previous law practice I spoke to was suitably up-to-date.
PB, Carindale
Michael is a good listener. My documentation maintained the high moral ground.
SS, Hamilton
Thank you for providing me with a professional yet empathetic approach to gain the best outcome for me. My solicitor was excellent in explaining the processes and in representing me in Court. You have great customer service!
T.V. Everton Park
I appreciate you being upfront with fee estimates. You also have a fantastic website and the seminars REALLY helped to get me focussed.
T.C. Tarragindi
You guys provide extraordinary service
AO, North Brisbane
I was impressed by my solicitor’s attention to detail and her concern for me and that the process was explained to me and that I understood it at all times.
BW, Chapel Hill
The staff at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers were great. Helen was fantastic, professional, understanding, caring, she always communicated with me. I knew I was in good hands.
AA, Eatons Hill
I appreciate Elizabeth’s professional approach and her being on top of my situation
NS, Mt Gravatt
Hi Amy,Thank you. You have been diligent, accurate and pro-active for the entire duration of my matter I appreciate it.
RP, Cleveland
Michael knew what he was talking about.
RM, Warwick
I really appreciated the happiness of your secretarial staff
GC, Clayfield
Thank you, you placed my needs first, you were aware of the need to reach a final result and not get caught up in the personal issues of the other party
SL, Moranbah
I like your friendly service and the ability to speak to my solicitor directly
RG, Wishart
Helen was professional, warm, friendly and real
NR, Crows Nest
I like Helen’s personable nature. I was also always confident that I was getting the very best advice
TS, Flinders
May I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you and your staff for the excellent professional services I received and a special thanks to Helen for the confidence and trust she engendered throughout the entire legal process, in a word, priceless.
DH , Hendra
Michael Lynch Family Lawyers are easy to deal with and their systems are good.
DT, Ferny Grove
I was very impressed with the first initial interview. Everything was well explained and the advice was honest about what I should expect.
CM, Morningside
Amelia is knowledgeable, professional and very calm.
A.C. Helensvale
Helen was very helpful in assisting me to combat a very ugly situation without stooping to the low levels that the other solicitor attempted to take us
MJ, Manly
If I need a family lawyer in the future I’ll be heading to Michael Lynch Family Lawyers again.
CW, Brookfield
I’m very glad Michael is my lawyer and not the other side’s solicitor.
SS, Hamilton
Thank you Helen, you kept me sane in a difficult situation and gave me the encouragement and the confidence to keep going. You made me feel extremely comfortable.
A.M. Chambers Flat
At Michael Lynch Family Lawyers I got professional and no nonsense advice, costs were within quoted amounts and my matter was resolved quickly – well done!
LR, Ascot
Many thanks for your assistance – life is now great – I’m moving on
J.K, Mansfield
My solicitor provided a personalised service, prompt and quick responses and cost information prior to my commitment
GC, Southport
I like that my lawyer treated me like a friend and kept jargon to a minimum. She was easy to contact and kept me informed.
LR, Samford
Hi Clare, Thank you for your ongoing conciliatory approach in this matter and as always I appreciate your level headed advice. I certainly feel that I ended up with the right Solicitor.
SC, Nundah.
Helen provided a personalised and professional service. Information has been clear and provided timely to assist my decision making
SS, Hamilton
Elizabeth is lovely to deal with and provides a balanced view in what are very difficult circumstances
AC, Morningside
Kirstie, thank you for the outstanding legal advice you have provided and professionalism in which you conduct yourself. I am truly thankful that it was you who represented me
MT, Stafford.
Michael is very personable and very good at covering the material and explaining the strategy
JO, Hawthorne
Michael was the most knowledgeable of all lawyers I spoke to when looking for a lawyer. He showed professionalism.
RR, Brighton
Thank you Amelia for being very personable, professional and always providing me with the most appropriate advice in my times of difficulty. The other party’s lawyers were extremely aggressive while Michael Lynch Family Lawyers remained calm and professional.
S.D. Parkinson
Hi Amy, Thank you for all that you have done during this matter. You impressed me with your professionalism from our initial meeting, and you have proven beyond doubt, to have had the skills and knowledge required. You are a credit to the company, and I would highly recommend you to anyone in a similar situation.
RP, Cleveland
Thank you for the great newsletter. Your article on “Coping with Christmas” is brilliant – clear, caring and helpful. Thanks again
CT, Bribie Island.
I have appreciated the way that you and the staff at your firm have handled my situation. I would especially like to mention the professional and caring way Kirstie conducted my case, I am deeply grateful and extremely happy with the results. I will be referring others to your service
JH, Wellington Point.
Helen, Thank you for helping me throgh this difficult time. You have been caring, compassionate and efficient. Some of my divorcing friends have not been so fortunate. In my mind you are the best family lawyer in Brisbane. If anyone I know needs a good family lawyer, I will tell them to speak to you. Thanks again.
B.T. Clayfield
I was guided through a really difficult time with Elizabeth’s expertise. I am more than happy with the outcome of mediation
JH, Windaroo
Michael, thank you again for your presence here yesterday. We really appreciated the clarity and accessibility of your presentation. It is a rare thing to find somebody who not only has expertise, but also has a skill in communicating it.
JS, UQ, Brisbane