Paula Phelan is a family law specialist who recently wrote a book about de-factor relationships. De facto couples are the ones who have been separated but can apply to the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit to solve their financial issues. She knows how difficult it is to get financial matters straight. Hence, she is shedding light on the case of Adesso V Payton to allow people to solve their matters.
She says that to establish a legal relationship, you need to prove the following things:
- The total period of the relationship should be at least two years
- There is a child from the relationship
- The person bringing the application to the court should have made a substantial contribution to the property, and it would cause injustice if an order was made otherwise.
A Case Study
The case of Adesso was to examine how much was the “substantial contribution” that passes the standard of being together for a minimum of two years. Assume a scenario where a couple had bought a house together, and one party invested $100k while the other invested $0. If the relationship ended within 18 months, one of the spouses’ contributions is substantial! The substantial contribution allows the party to make a claim even though they had not been together for two years.
It would be an injustice if the person who contributed $100k was not compensated. The facts in the case of Adesso v. Paytonwe are not as clean as they may seem. The couple was together for 14 months, and during this time, the guy worked as a pilot and was the sole financial contributor. The woman stayed in the relationship as a homemaker and mother of his kids from a previous relationship. The couple was living in a house that was owned by the pilot’s mother . It was located in a heritage listing, and the duo planned to renovate it.
After the separation, she claimed that despite the relationship not lasting for two years, she still had a right to claim property settlement because her contributions were significant. She would be a victim of injustice if she were stopped from doing so. She claimed the following contributions were made by her for the property:
- Maintaining the garden and supervising the gardener
- Cooking and homemaking
- Managing the renovations
- Assisting with the partner’s business
The court found that her contributions were not substantial in a way that they were not out of the ordinary. She and her child had received financial support from the respondent, including a place to stay, holidays, and school fees. Hence, her contributions were not substantial enough compared to the respondents. The court justified that the applicant would not suffer an injustice if her claim for a property was declined, given that the relationship didn’t even last for two years.
As the respondent made all the substantial financial contributions, the court was unlikely to decide in favor of the applicant. The relationship didn’t even last for two years, and there was no child from the relationship. The court was not convinced that a claim for the property could be pursued. The application, hence, was dismissed.