What benefit do I get for my inheritance in dividing the property on separation?

On many occasions one or other partner in the marriage or the de facto relationship will receive an inheritance that is in some way applied to increase the asset base of the parties or paid to a mortgage account to reduce a joint liability. The difficulty will then arise in circumstances where the parties separate. How does the court view such contribution? Will one or both of the parties receive the benefit?

inheritanceIn a recent case in the Family Court the husband received an inheritance of 43.5% of the $2.7m pool of assets.

The parties in this case had been married for 28 years and had 2 children from their relationship. The husband had made an initial contribution of a house that he had purchased for $45,500. He had taken out a mortgage over the property that was ultimately paid out by his father. About 1-2 years prior to the parties separating the husband had received his large inheritance.

The trial judge took into account the extent of the inheritance, the various financial and non financial contributions that each of the parties had made during the marriage to acquire and maintain the assets Wife has not disclosed her long service leave or annual leave in her Financial Statement and assessed the split of the property as to 70% to the husband and 30% to the wife. The wife then received an additional benefit of 7.5% for what was described by the judge as her “limited employment opportunities”.

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