The Court goes through a four-step process in all property settlement cases. Step 2 of this process requires the court to examine contributions of each of the parties to the relationship. One type of contribution is contribution by way of parenting duties.
When negotiating a property settlement, it is important to keep in mind that all the aspects of the relationship are relevant insofar as they relate directly or indirectly to allowing the property pool to grow. That is, just because a party stayed home and did not work in order to look after the children of the relationship, it does not mean he/she did not contribute, as in most cases this allowed the other party to maintain full time work, which paid for the family home or led to cash savings being accrued.
When examining the relevance of parenting duties in a parties’ relationship or marriage, the Court is not concerned with the quality of the performance of parenting, but rather just the fact it was performed and by whom. The most significant factors in this regard are whether or not those duties were a full or part time concern of the party claiming to have performed them, and whether or not parties made use of help for example, a nanny or au pair.
Alternatively, one party may be engaged in full time work and meeting all the parties’ expenses, as well as being the party that does the majority of the parenting duties. The Court may assess the contribution of this party to the property pool as higher than the other party as they have done more to maintain and/or improve the property pool.
Parenting contributions are a separate category of contributions to homemaker duties and non-financial contributions. Non-financial contributions refers to contributions which were made, to increase the size of the net asset pool, but were not contributions for which there was any financial reward received. An example of such a contribution would be where a house had been extended by the personal efforts of one of the parties and the extension of the house added significant value to it.
If you are unsure how your contributions to your relationship may be assessed as part of your property settlement, especially if such contributions were not of a financial nature and mainly relating to parenting, contact Armstrong Legal for advice from our family law specialists.
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