The recent development about Barnaby Joyce’s extra marital affair has opened a dialogue with regards to discussions on property settlements and paternity. What many people falsely assume is that the girlfriend (as opposed to his wife) will not be entitled to anything apart from child support from Barnaby and that his property settlement issues with his (now) ex-wife will be resolved through the usual process.
This cannot be further from the truth. In this circumstance, it is possible that Barnaby has left himself open to a property settlement claim from both his now ex-wife and the girlfriend. How can this be possible? The Family Law Act provides that parties are entitled to seek a property settlement through the Courts where they are either in a de-facto relationship or a marital relationship. Ordinarily, most people will fall into either one or the other category, however the process is the same when it comes to establishing entitlements.
Where the issue is complicated is in circumstances where a one party to the relationship maintains a relationship with a party outside the relationship. Often these relationships are short-lived and when discovered, often result in the parties separating. In this circumstance, the relationship has not only been over a lengthy period of time, it has also resulted the birth of a child. If we were to put the paternity issues aside, what we are now faced with is one person who has maintained two relationships which, if considered individually, would each satisfy the criteria set out be the Family Law Act to qualify for a property settlement (and potentially spousal maintenance as well).
In this circumstance, both the girlfriend and ex-wife would be entitled to seek a property settlement under the Act. If both the girlfriend and ex-wife apply for a property settlement, this could potentially see Barnaby left with very little by way of assets.
If you need advice about a property settlement, please contact us to speak to one of our Family Law experts who will be able to give you comprehensive advice and ensure that you receive what you are entitled to. Call us on 1300 066 669.