Free Accommodation Provided by Parents Relevant in Property Settlement

Case of Panagakos [2013] FamCA 463 (18 June 2013)

This case concerned the distribution of the parties’ asset pool after 18 years of marriage.

The asset pool, excluding superannuation, was considered to be around $1.4 million. The husband had initially contributed real estate worth $430,000 and the wife contributed real estate worth $315,000.

Loughnan J considered that the free accommodation provided by the husband’s parents was relevant when working out contributions during the marriage for the purposes of determining an appropriate distribution of the assets. Loughnan said:

“The parties lived with the husband’s parents for nearly 14 years, rent free and without the cost of utilities. They had use of the husband’s father’s car at no cost. … The contribution … by the husband’s parents represents a very substantial indirect, financial contribution … on behalf of the husband.”

The court also took into account the free accommodation still provided to the husband post the marriage breakdown to make a 5 per cent adjustment of the asset pool in the wife’s favour.

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