Your selected location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. HHG Articles
  4. /
  5. Post Separation Financial Contributions: why quick settlements can be vital
1 Dec 2015

When parties separate, it is not unusual for settlement discussions to take months and years to resolve.  When a matter goes through the Court system and requires a decision by a judicial officer because the parties are not able to settle the matter themselves, the parties’ financial circumstance at the time of Trial may be very different from their financial circumstance at the time of their separation.  As lawyers, we are often asked to provide advice to our clients as to the effect such changes have on the parties’ property division.  It is not unusual in such cases for a party who has made significant contributions post separation to feel aggrieved that their financial good fortune is to be shared with the party from whom they have now separated.  One such case is the recently decided appeal case of Trask & Westlake [2015] FamCAFC 160.



In this case, the parties were married for about 11 years and had lived together for about 13 years.  They had four children who were aged 15, 13, 11 and 9 at the time of their separation.  They were not able to agree on their property settlement and litigated the matter to a Trial.  By the time Orders were made by the Court, some four years had passed since the parties’ separation.  A significant issue at Trial was the post separation financial contributions made by the husband.



At Trial, the Court found that the parties had net assets of about $7million.  The husband submitted that he made a substantially higher financial contribution, post separation, because of his very high income post separation.  Specifically, about a year post separation, the husband obtained a new position that paid a markedly higher salary, and included significant sign-on fees and incentive payments.  The husband’s taxable income for the 3 years after he had obtained the new position was approximately $2million, $3.5million, and $1million respectively.  The sign-on fees and incentive payments totalled approximately $2.6million.  Notwithstanding these significant financial post separation contributions the Trial Judge found that the husband and the wife’s post separation contributions were equal.



In arriving at this conclusion, the Court noted that throughout their marriage, the parties conducted their relationship on the basis that the husband would pursue his career, and that the wife would be the homemaker and primary carer to the children.  The Court found that the husband’s new position was gained because of the experience, knowledge and opportunities he had obtained in his earlier employment, where he was entirely supported by the wife.  The Trial Judge found that the wife’s non-financial contribution and contribution to the welfare of the children permitted the husband his promotions, which in turn led to the position he obtained post separation.  



The husband attempted to challenge the Trial Judge’s assessment of his post separation contributions.  On appeal, the Full Court of the Family Court found that the assessment of contributions remains “a matter of judgment and not of computation”, and that the Trial Judge correctly recognised that the wife’s contributions did not cease upon separation.  While any one of the Judges of the Full Court had they been acting as the Trial Judge may have come to a different conclusion, that is not enough for an Appeal Court to overturn a Trial Judge’s decision. The Appeal was dimissed.



The above case is but one example of a case where had the husband and the wife settled their financial issues shortly after separation, even if the husband had provided the wife with the majority of their assets at the time of separation, the husband would likely have done better overall. 



While there is a requirement in Australia that married parties are required to have separated from each other for a period of 12 months before they apply for divorce, there is no such requirement before they apply for a property settlement.  The case outlined above provides an example of a situation where a quick post separation financial settlement would have been financially advantageous for the husband.



The above article is for general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.


*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"


My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"


"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."


"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"


"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."


"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."


"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."


"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."


"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."


"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."


"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve and Jane

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."


"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."


"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"


"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."


"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."


"Good service you can count on."


"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."


"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."


"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."


Select your location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.