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Property adjustment orders are not always made after long relationships end

In the recent decision of Chancellor & McCoy [2016] FCCA 53, Judge Turner of the Federal Circuit Court found that it was not just and equitable to make an order altering property interests for a de facto couple that had been in a relationship for 27 years.

Throughout this relationship the parties, who had no children:

  • did not intermingle their finances and maintained separate bank accounts;
  • acquired properties in their own names;
  • were unaware of the other’s financial situation;
  • did not make wills benefitting each other; and
  • did not nominate each other as the beneficiaries of their respective superannuation fund death benefits.

The Court found that the parties had arranged their finances in such a way that they used their wages as they wished and did not have to account to the other. At separation neither party was aware of the assets the other had built up over the years.

The Court dismissed Ms Chancellor’s application for a property distribution on the basis that it would not be just and equitable for there to be an order altering property interests, noting that the way the parties conducted their financial affairs meant that neither party would or could have acquired an interest in the property owned by the other.

For more information, or for any other family law related queries, please contact Margaret Miller, Partner in our Litigation & Dispute Resolution department.