How are initial contributions considered in property settlement?

There are several considerations that the Court looks at when dividing assets, liabilities and financial resources from either a matrimonial or defacto relationship in order to reach a settlement that is just and equitable. The court weighs up the indirect and direct contributions of each party which are financial and those that are not, including contributions to the home and children.

The assessment then considers the current and future needs of each of the parties including their income, earning capacity and if care is required for the children. So how are initial contributions assessed in a Family Law Proceedings?


There is no presumption of equal contribution, however, it is usually in long term relationships, the contributions are considered relatively equal from both parties during the length of the relationship. Pierce v Pierce (1998) considered how the Courts should assess initial contributions and determine what weight should be given.

In this case, the husband contributed a significant amount of money at the beginning of the couple’s relationship which lasted for 12 years and included two children. At first instance, the trial judge decided that the initial contribution of the husband was eroded by the length and relatively equal contributions made by each party during the marriage. This resulted in a division of matrimonial assets with husband receiving 55% and the wife receiving 45% without an adjustment of relevant factors set out in s75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975.

It was later appealed to the Full Court which determined that although there were equal contributions during the marriage, the contributions by the husband, in the beginning, was not adequately accounted for in the initial division. The Full Court held that the husband’s initial contribution formed a significant part of the overall pool post-separation and after considering relevant contributions and s75(2) factors, the property settlement for the husband was increased to 75% with the wife receiving the balance 25%.


The weight of initial contributions must be determined by the Court and included in the overall settlement of property in family law. These initial contributions are not minimised by the equal contributions that are made during the relationship as once thought. This is to ensure that the outcome is just and equitable after assessing all relevant contributions and future needs of both parties. If you need expert legal representation in Family Law matter, please contact Pannu Lawyers on 02 9920 1787. Our principal is named as leading Family and Matrimonial Lawyer of the Year by Acquisition International in their 2019 leading Adviser Awards. Pannu Lawyers are conveniently located in Blacktown and extensively practice Family Law, Criminal Law, Commercial Law and Conveyancing.

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