Legal Hypothetical: Claim on inheritance under Family Law Act

AMANDA and Robert meet each other in their early 50s and begin dating.

After a few months, they consider themselves to be boyfriend and girlfriend.

After Robert’s mother passes-away, he decides to move-in with this father, so that he can look after him.

Shortly after moving-in, Robert invites Amanda to come and live with him and his father.

Amanda and Robert give the house a thorough clean-up before she moves in.

They don’t pay rent.

Unfortunately, after living together for six years, their relationship breaks down and they separate.

Later that year, Robert’s father passes-away and leaves the whole of his estate to Robert, including the house, now worth over $1 million.

Amanda files an Initiating Application in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, seeking orders that she receive $300,000 by way of a property settlement.

The parties cannot agree on a reasonable compromise and the matter proceeds to a hearing.

The Court hears that at the commencement of their relationship, both parties were in modest financial circumstances and when they separated, they each had assets totalling just $50,000.

Amanda claims that she spent some 300 hours cleaning up and renovating Robert’s father’s home.

She says that she attended to the cooking and cleaning and his transportation needs.

Amanda claims that due to her contributions towards the relationship and in consideration of “future factors”, which include her limited income earning potential given her age and her suffering from back problems, it is “just and equitable” that she receives a benefit of an order in her favour, although she reduces her claim to $100,000.

The Court notes that the parties kept their financial affairs separate during their relationship and expresses concerns regarding the credibility of Amanda’s evidence.

Ultimately, the Court does not accept that Robert’s father’s house should automatically form part of the assets of the relationship and on the basis that Amanda had no contribution-based entitlement in the home, dismisses her claim.

Email Manny Wood, Principal Solicitor at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

This column cannot be relied upon as legal advice.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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