How are non-financial contributions dealt with by the courts when a relationship comes to an end?
When determining how property is to be dealt with when a relationship comes to an end, the law will look to the contributions of the parties that takes into account assets and liabilities that encompasses financial and non-financial contributions. This piece will be focused on the non-financial contributions.
Section 79(4)(b) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) deals with contributions other than financial contributions made directly or indirectly by, or on behalf of a party to the marriage. For de facto relationships, the relevant section can be found in s 90SM(4)(b), which deals with non-financial contributions to the “acquisition, conservation or improvement” of the property of the parties.
Homemaker and parental contributions
The Act requires the court to take into account contributions made in the capacity of parent and homemaker as outlined in s 79(4)(c), and s 90SM(4)(c) for de facto relationships. Some of the considerations that may be taken into account include cleaning, cooking and raising children just to name a few non-financial contribution examples that may be considered.
It should also be noted that the homemaker and parental contribution considerations can also apply to men as well. Therefore, labour involving home improvements can also be seen as non-financial contributions, especially if it leads to an increase in the value of property.
Any type of non-financial contributions can be considered
Beyond homemaking, childrearing and home improvement contributions, any type of non-financial contribution may be considered that can include contributions that may not fit into the usual mould. In the Marriage of Whiteley (1992) the wife of Brett Whiteley successfully argued that part of her non-financial contribution involved “artistic inspiration and intellectually as critic and confidante” to the artist – an argument that the court agreed with.