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He may have stepped down from the National Party leadership but he is likely to be facing a whole new set of challenges from a family law perspective.
Having announced his separation from his wife in December 2017, he will now be facing a property settlement with her together with possible spouse maintenance and child support for any of his four children who remain under 18 years of age.
After 24 years of marriage, Mr Joyce is unlikely to walk away with more than 50% of the matrimonial assets and may end up with considerably less than that depending on the contributions made by he and his wife and an assessment of the earning capacity and other future needs of each party.
It would appear that Mr Joyce is now in a de facto relationship with Ms Campion, who he has referred to as his ‘partner’ and who is having his child…or is she? Media reports over the weekend have quoted Mr Joyce as stating that the paternity of the child is a ‘bit of a grey area’.
While his comments may have (and probably should) land him in pretty hot water with his new girlfriend, will they amount to anything more?
Well, in the event that his relationship with Ms Campion doesn’t work out, the question of paternity may well be significant for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, parties who are in a de facto relationship but have lived together for less than two years would not ordinarily have a claim for property settlement or spouse maintenance….but if they have a child together it’s a different story. That fact opens the door to Ms Campion to bring a claim in the event of separation. Any entitlement of Ms Campion would again depend on a range of factors including the length of the relationship and the care of any children of the relationship.
Secondly, if Mr Joyce disputes paternity his liability to pay child support will also be in issue. Father’s who dispute paternity can seek and order for paternity testing from the Federal Circuit Court and, in the event that they are found not to be the biological parent of the child, will not be liable to pay child support.
So perhaps we should all be thankful to our former Deputy PM for highlighting so many potential pitfalls that arise when marriages breakdown (particularly as a result of infidelity)!
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