Oftentimes, the parties to a broken relationship will continue to make contributions after separation. The weight attributed to such contributions can be a difficult question. This is particularly so when the parties’ finances after separation involve weighing one parties’ substantial financial contributions against the other party’s domestic contributions. Trask & Westlake  FamCAFC 160 is a recent decision of the Full Court that addresses the issue finances after separation in of assessing the parties’ respective financial and non-financial contributions.
The parties had been married for 13 years and had four children. Throughout the marriage, the parties agreed that the wife would be responsible for parenting/homemaking responsibilities whereas the husband would be the breadwinner. Once the parties had separated, the husband’s income had increased considerably. This resulted in earnings of approximately 9 million dollars from the date of separation until the date of trial. The wife, on the other hand, resumed her home-making responsibilities in relation to the parties 4 children. At trial, Aldridge J assessed the parties’ post-separation contributions as equal. The husband appealed.
There was no error in the trial judge’s assessment that the parties’ post-separation contributions were equal. After separation, the wife had continued her role as parent/homemaker under difficult circumstances. The husband’s increased earnings were in part attributable to his hard work and dedication. But the wife also deserved credit given that her dedication to her family enabled the husband to advance his career. The mere fact that wife’s contributions are not susceptible to a “dollar representation” shouldn’t prejudice her claim or render her contributions less important.
Finances after separation in the form of a party’s substantial contributions to the acquisition of property may be offset by the other party’s domestic contributions. This may occur in circumstances where there is evidence of the following. Namely, the relevant party’s capacity to accumulate wealth predicated, in part, on the other party’s domestic contributions both during and after the relationship.