A R Walmsley Solicitors Sydney

DOCUMENTS & GUIDES...

PROPERTY DIVISION AND WASTAGE OF MATRIMONIAL ASSETS

Bill and Barbara had been married for 15 years. There were 3 children of their relationship aged 15, 12 and 9. The marriage has broken down and the children live with Barbara. Over the years of their marriage Bill and Barbara had worked together in a trucking business. They had started out with one truck. They were very successful in what they did and how they managed their business. They now operated eight trucks. The business operated as a company. Bill and Barbara were directors and shareholders of the company. The company had made a taxable income over the past five years in excess of $200,000.00 per year. Prior to the breakdown of the relationship, Barbara did all the books. Bill did all of the organisation. He hired the drivers, negotiated the contracts and supervised maintenance of the trucks.

Barbara arrived in her Solicitor's office very distraught. "Bill is ruining the business. He has locked me out of the business. I no longer have any access to the books. " The immediate thought is that this is not ruining the business and Barbara is overreacting. Everybody thinks that their partner will ruin the business without them. However, Barbara goes on to say, "Bill has said to me that he's not going to bust himself for me. " Barbara then goes on to tell her Solicitor that Bill has put off five of the drivers. He has advertised five of the trucks for sale. The trucks will only cover the lease payments. Bill has breached a couple of major carrying contracts. He only now goes to work a couple of days a week.

The business had been valued at $1 million. Barbara's Solicitor should now be taking very keen notice of what she is saying. The Family Court cannot order Bill to go to work with any great effect. However, if something is not done, Bill will ruin the business completely and Barbara will suffer. There is no doubt that Bill's actions are wilful and are directed at wasting the assets that have been accumulated during the marriage by Bill and Barbara.

An experienced Family Lawyer will take particular notice of this type of behaviour. It doesn't happen very often, but from time to time it does. It is important that your Lawyer can actually identify wilful wastage of matrimonial assets and distinguish it from a downturn in business. In the case of Bill and Barbara, there may be some urgent relief that can be sought from the Family Court. Alternatively, the case which is brought by Barbara for an alteration of property interests needs to be skilfully drafted and presented so as to provide the evidence required to satisfy the Court that Bill has been deliberately wasteful.

This is a particular case where the behaviour of one party is taken into account in property matters.

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