Two de facto wives entitled to funds

Property – Division of available pool between appellant’s two de facto wives was just and equitable – His “multiple deliberate non-disclosures” and having “not credibly accounted for” his spending of $1,300,000 of second wife’s funds considered under s 90SF(3)(r)

In Farrah & Cisek [2024] FedCFamC1A 38 (28 March 2024), the Full Court (Tree, Baumann & Williams JJ) heard a de facto husband’s appeal from final property orders of Hartnett J.

It was ordered that 100 per cent of the proceeds of sale of the appellant’s real property and superannuation be awarded to the first de facto wife, after payment of $625,711 to the second wife (second respondent).

The second wife, represented by a litigation guardian, was in a relationship with the appellant after his relationship with the first wife ([2]).

As to the Court’s approach to multiple de facto partners, the Full Court said (from [33]):

“Sensibly in this case where the primary judge was dealing with two de facto relationships … her Honour structured her reasons for judgment by making findings about the contribution based entitlements arising from each relationship before … making findings about the “section 90SF(3) matters as applicable to all parties”.

( … )


[35] The usual way in which defective disclosure is taken into account is either by adding a sum to the pool … or under s 90SF(3)(r) of the Act …

[36] It is clear that … her Honour was not able to make any reliable estimate of the value of the appellant’s undisclosed property.

( … )

[43] Having found that the appellant already had control of substantial undisclosed funds, the available pool was divided between the first respondent and the second respondent.

( … )

[45] The adjustment of 35 per cent in favour of the first respondent under all considerations prescribed by s 90SF(3) of the Act … was supported by the primary judge’s findings … including the significant disparity comparatively between the appellant and the first respondent in relation to income, earning capacity, property and financial resources – mostly undisclosed…”


The appeal was dismissed, with costs fixed at $20,000 for the first respondent and $5000 for the litigation guardian for the second respondent.

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