Property – Full Court sets aside property order…

family law casenotes

…in short, childless de facto relationship

In Grunseth & Wighton [2022] FedCFamC1A 132 (26 August 2022), the Full Court (Alstergren CJ, Aldridge & Brasch JJ) allowed a de facto wife’s appeal in a case involving a childless de facto relationship that lasted for “just under three years”.

The parties purchased a property (the B town property), the de facto wife contributing 70% of the purchase price and the husband 30%. The parties registered the B town property 70:30 in favour of the wife ([5]).

The de facto husband paid $160,000 to the de facto wife. The parties agreed that the intention of the payment was such that the B town property would be registered 50:50 between them.

At first instance, the court ordered a division of 52.5% to the de facto husband and 47.5% to the de facto wife. The Full Court said (from [37]):

“ … [W]e cannot reconcile the ultimate determination … with the … fact that the [de facto wife] … contributed over 52.5 per cent of the … assets and with assets to which the [de facto husband] … made no contribution to at all. … (…)

[74] … [T]here is much to be said for the proposition that the parties should … receive the property owned by them … particularly so when the ownership of the B Town property was … structured … to reflect the parties’ contributions … (…)


[76] … The … payment of $160,000 … was paid by the [de facto husband] … to gain an increased share of the B Town property … [A]n allowance must be made in [his] … favour for at least that sum. (…)

[88] … [T]he order will provide for the sale of the … property and the division of the proceeds 70 per cent to the [de facto wife] … and 30 per cent to the [de facto husband] … [and] for the payment of $160,000 by the [de facto wife] … to the [de facto husband] … ”

Craig Nicol and Keleigh Robinson are co-editors of The Family Law Book. Both are accredited specialists in family law (Queensland and Victoria, respectively). The Family Law Book is a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service (

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