“Who Contributed What?”

What Are ‘Contributions’ In A Property Settlement?

Jessica Purcell

When I went through my own divorce, I decided to DIY my property settlement. 

I wasn’t a lawyer, yet, let alone a family lawyer. In fact, I was fresh from my law degree with no intention whatsoever of going into family law. Regardless, I was stubborn, and without any cash to splash, so I Googled a DIY Property Settlement booklet.

Step One: of the DIY property settlement was ‘The Property Pool’. That was pretty straight forward. What did we own? What did we owe? I tallied it all up in tables, and moved on to the next bit.

Step Two: ‘Contributions’.

Financial Vs Non-Financial Contributions

Financial contributions can be pretty simple:

How much did each of you earn through the relationship?

How much value did each of you bring in at the start?

Did you move in together with a massive amount of savings? Huge credit card debts? Did one of you own a house?

How did you pay for things during the relationship? Did one of you put all your income into the household whilst the other one was squandering money away or gambling it down the pub?

Then we look to non-financial contributions:

Who was the primary homemaker? Was there one? Was it equal?

Did one of you work less to care for someone? Children? Sick or elderly parents?

Did one of you cease work to move all over the country/world with the other person who was the breadwinner? 

That last example is a good one, because it can be hotly contested. Perhaps the husband was working overseas for a huge salary. The wife came over with the kids, and the kids all went to school, or had nannies, and perhaps they had staff in the home to cook and clean. 

So did the wife fail to contribute? Maybe. But maybe she had to give up her highly paid professional role back home. And maybe it was a cultural/local expectation that the family paid for household help. And either way, the wife lost out on her independence, her income, and her superannuation. 

So What Does It All Mean?

Depending on your relationship, your contributions will play more or less of a role in determining the outcome in a property settlement. Regardless, you will need to consider what each of you contributed, financially and non-financially, before we move onto the next step.

JPx By Jessica Purcell (JP Family Law & Mediation)

jpflm.com – 0466 090 434