Pub­li­ca­tions

I’m late com­ply­ing with Fam­i­ly Court Orders, no one will mind

Not nec­es­sar­i­ly.

In a recent Fam­i­ly Law case the hus­band found out the hard way that he should not have delayed com­ply­ing with Court Orders for his prop­er­ty settlement.

The case of Black­well & Scott [2017] FAM­CAFC 77 involved a cou­ple who at the end of their 10 year de fac­to rela­tion­ship agreed to a prop­er­ty set­tle­ment divid­ing their assets equally.

The Con­sent Orders required the hus­band to pay the wife the sum of $130,000 with­in 90 days and he was to retain an invest­ment property.

The hus­band delayed the pay­ment for 13 months. That was 2014 and 2015 in the hot Syd­ney prop­er­ty mar­ket. In that time the val­ue of the invest­ment prop­er­ty had increased so much that the sum of $130,000 no longer rep­re­sent­ed one half of the asset pool.

The wife brought pro­ceed­ings to set aside the Con­sent Orders. She took the posi­tion that the Con­sent Orders were nego­ti­at­ed on the basis that they effect­ed an equal divi­sion between the par­ties of their assets. With a pay­ment to her of $130,000 even with inter­est, cal­cu­lat­ed at $12,000, she would no longer be receiv­ing one half but sig­nif­i­cant­ly less.

She was suc­cess­ful at tri­al and the Full Court dis­missed the husband’s appeal.

The hus­band would no doubt have been regret­ting his delay because had he com­plied with the Court Orders prompt­ly and not kept the wife wait­ing, the set­tle­ment would have been finalised and he would have been enti­tled to ben­e­fit from the increase in the property’s value.

You need to be sure when reach­ing a prop­er­ty set­tle­ment that the time­frame for any pay­ment is real­is­tic and you have appro­pri­ate finance in place. It is impor­tant you com­ply with Court Orders at the times you agreed to. The con­se­quences for breach of orders can be sig­nif­i­cant because you prob­a­bly will not be able to bring the oth­er par­ty or the Court back to the orig­i­nal agree­ment after you have delayed.