Bolger & Headon [2014] FamCAFC 27 (27 February 2014)

The Full Court of the Family Court allowed H’s appeal against a 51/49 property order in his favour.

There was no children to the marriage, however there was a  a net  property pool of $1.5 million. The husband’s initial contribution was valued at half the pool and the wife had inherited a property worth $250,000.

At first instance, the court “attribute[d] 7 per cent to the husband’s initial contributions”, “a further 4 per cent [to him] by way of contribution [during cohabitation and post-separation]” and 7.5 per cent to the wife as “an appropriate figure” to acknowledge her inheritance. The wife also received a further adjustment of 2.5 per cent applying section 75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 (which lists matters that can be taken into account account by the court when making adjustments to property (and determining the appropriate amount of spousal maintenance to be paid, if any).

The Full Court of the Family Court rejected this approach, stating that “the attribution of specific percentages to components of contribution and the adjustment in respect of the s75(2) factors can only be seen to result in the overall conclusion if the premise is a 50/50 starting point”. The Full Court said that the 50/50 presumption had earlier been rejected by the High Court of Australia in the case of Mallet v Mallet[1984] HCA 21.

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