Hoffman & Hoffman [2014] FamCAFC 92

ON 27 MAY 2014, the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia delivered Hoffman & Hoffman [2014] FamCAFC 92 (27 May 2014)


The Federal Magistrate had determined a property split of 50:50. The husband appealed, seeking a 70:30 split, on the grounds that the Federal Magistrate had failed to take into account his “special contributions” in the form of special skills and entrepreneurial flair.

The Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the Federal Magistrate was not required to take into account special contributions.

The court affirmed the state of the law with regards to the supposed doctrine of special contributions by quoting O’Ryan J in D & D [2005] FamCA 1462 at [271]:

“…the notion of special contribution has all been a terrible mistake … what I have to do is identify and assess the contributions made by each of the parties without any presumption of entitlement” (emphasis in original). The task is to make findings as to the nature, form, characteristics and duration of each and all of the contributions made by each of the parties referenced to s 79(4), without adjectival qualification[17]. Thereafter the court must undertake the exquisitely difficult task of assessing how those respective contributions, often of differing types (a task which his Honour referred to below as a comparison of apples and carrots (at [42])), find expression in qualitative assessments.[18] In the context of a case such as the present one, the duration of the marriage[19] has an important influence upon what evidence is relevant in respect of contributions. There is no need to conduct a minute forensic examination of the details of contributions over many years with each party extolling their own efforts and attempting to diminish the other’s.”


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