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Family Law Blog

Win for Wife due to Husband’s “Wastage”

Posted by on 7 Aug 2013


A client recently said to me, "My partner was an abusive, lying, cheating *&@#! Shouldn't I get more money from our property settlement for everything x has put me through???" I truly felt for my client after everything she had been through, but unfortunately the answer is generally “no.”

The immoral conduct of a party during a relationship whether it be infidelity, physical violence, gambling, alcoholism, drug addictions, or just sheer stupidity, is generally not relevant in the determination of Family Law property settlements. Most Judges find the details of the cheating partner's lies, deceits, and hotel rendezvous irrelevant and does not assist the Court. Essentially, Family Law in Australia operates as a "no fault" jurisdiction, meaning that there are no penalties or adjustments made to any of the parties during a property settlement regarding whose "fault" it was that the marriage or relationship broke down.

While it seems unfair, there are however exceptional circumstances in which there may be an adjustment for the party that was wronged. There was a recent case where the wife claimed that towards the end of the marriage, and then immediately after separation, the husband spent a significant amount of joint funds on expenses such as online pornography, prostitutes and mistresses. The expenses include travel and accommodation, online debts to pornographic websites and membership fees to dating agencies and sugar daddy organisations. In this particular case, the Judge said that such expenditure by the husband was not for "reasonable necessary living expenses" and described such spending as "reckless, negligent or wanton", and as a result an adjustment was made to the wife for this conduct. See story at:

The husband's spending in that case is often described as "wastage" in Family Law proceedings. For 'wastage' arguments, each case must be examined on its own facts. The reasonableness of the expenditure must be taken into consideration as well as the justice and equity of each case. If you have any concerns about your former partner wasting your joint funds or want to find out how you can stop them from spending your joint funds, come and speak to one of our highly experienced and accredited Family Law Specialists at Coleman Greig Lawyers. Phone (02) 9635 6422 or email

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