Family Law: Appealing the Assessment of Contributions

One of the most litigated subjects in family law is disputes regarding the parties’ contributions to the relationship’s asset pool. Generally, a party’s contribution is assessed by considering a party’s financial, non-financial and homemaker or parenting contributions before, during and after the relationship. A greater contribution by a party would result in a higher entitlement for that party, and vice versa.

Although parties usually accept the assessment of contributions made by the Family Court, dissatisfied parties may seek to appeal the decision to the Full Court. However, whether such an appeal would be upheld will depend on a few factors.

The recent case Daly v Terrazas [2019] FamCAFC 142 discusses some of the factors that the Full Court will take into account when hearing appeals regarding contributions.

In this case, the husband sought to appeal the Family Court’s assessment of his wife’s contribution at 20 per cent of the asset of the relationship. This challenge was made on the basis that the decision is incorrect and that her Honour had failed to provide adequate reasons for her decision.

Unfavourable to the husband, the Full Court unanimously dismissed this appeal. In doing so, the Full Court made several observations.

Firstly, a challenge to the Family Court’s assessment of the wife’s contribution is a challenge to the exercise of the Family Court’s discretion. As such, the Full Court would generally not reverse the decision of the Family Court unless the outcome is “plainly wrong”, which sets a high bar for any appellate intervention.

Secondly, any entitlement based on the evaluation of contributions, such as the entitlement, in this case, would inevitably involve a “leap” from words to figures. Accordingly, the only occasion in which an appellate court like the Full Court would intervene would be when the “leap” is so great that it would render the reasoning process defective.

To further illustrate these observations, the Full Court listed the things that the Family Court took into account when making its assessment, which include:

  • How the parties conducted their relationship both financially and as to the care of their children
  • During the relationship, the parties invested in each other’s property to the advantage of the “family enterprise”
  • On separation, both parties continued to invest and reap profits on their investment
  • The husband will have assets capable of earning vastly more income than the wife  

Given that the Family Court had considered the above factors, the Full Court held that the Family Court’s assessment of the wife’s contribution was neither “plainly wrong” nor a “leap” so great that would render the reasoning process defective. Therefore, the appeal was ultimately dismissed.

Lincoln Legal has represented many clients in the area of Family Law. Our lawyers have dealt with all kinds of family law disputes, including disputes relating to contributions. Contact us today by calling or visiting us at one of our offices in HurstvilleWaterloo and Crows Nest.

You may also want to read our article on Binding Financial Agreements,

Disclaimer: The information above is intended to be general information only and it should not be relied upon it as legal advice. If you seek professional advice please feel free to contact the team at Lincoln Legal or make an enquiry.