Status of Unwritten Parenting Agreement Tested

Case of Bevan [2014] FamCAFC 19 (19 February 2014)

According to the the Full Court of the Family Court: “The primary issue [was] whether [the trial judge] erred in concluding it was just and equitable to alter existing property interests when the parties had largely lived apart for 18 years and the husband had told the wife she could retain the assets”. The Full Court allowed the appeal, dismissing the husband’s application. According to Bryant CJ and Thackray J:

“The basis upon which it can be concluded in many cases that it is just and equitable to make orders interfering with existing interests in property following the breakdown of marriage is because it is no longer appropriate to proceed on the basis of the stated and unstated assumptions between the parties to the marriage in circumstances where they have not expressly considered whether, or to what extent, there should be some different arrangement of their property interests  … In the present matter, however, the parties did give express consideration to what should become of their property. In such circumstances we consider the husband must do more than point to the end of the relationship . . . to persuade us that there is some principled basis upon which we should interfere with an existing state of affairs created by consent, or at the very least, acquiescence of the parties”.

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