Our client, (“Alan”) came to Ezra Legal after his separation with “Jane”, which had occurred 6 weeks before our initial meeting. They had been married for 7 years and had a child, “Jamie”, aged 5. Alan, 42, worked as a mechanical engineer earning $120,000 per annum plus allowances for living away from home on projects for weeks at a time. Jane, a university lecturer, had not worked for nearly 6 years since partway through her pregnancy.
Prior to meeting Jane, Alan owned a three-bedroom house valued at about $600,000, with a mortgage of $140,000. At the time of separation the house, now worth $750,000, had a $210,000 mortgage. Alan and Jane had drawn down on the mortgage to go on an overseas holiday and replace Jane’s car with a new four-wheel drive vehicle.
Both Alan and Jane had about equal superannuation because Jane had made additional contributions towards super from the time she first entered the workforce, and her employer made contributions over and above the superannuation guarantee.
Alan’s main concerns when contacting us were:
- seeing Jamie on a regular basis and maintaining a relationship with him given the limitations imposed on his time at home by his work commitments; and
- retaining the family home.
Jane requested half of the house, spousal maintenance from Alan of $700 a week plus child support and for Alan to see Jamie only when she agreed. She justified her position on the basis she needed to be able to buy somewhere else to live for her and Jamie. They had agreed she would be a full-time mother and she did not want to return to the workforce after a 6-year absence. She also stated Alan could not spend regular time with Jamie because he was unreliable in keeping to a visitation schedule due to his work commitments.
Unfortunately, the case could not be settled, largely because Jane would not compromise on arrangements for Jamie and her view that Alan should continue to wholly support her while she was a full-time mother.
Because we are commercial specialists, we do not act in contested children’s matters. So in this case Ezra Legal partnered with lawyers who specialise in this field, allowing us to focus our commercial strengths on the split of assets. Whilst our partners prepared Alan’s custody case by organising his evidence, submitting all court documents to his best advantage, and preparing him for questions he would be asked, we made appropriate offers of settlement to demonstrate Jane’s unreasonable requests. Together, we discussed the advantages of Alan’s proposal, the shortcomings of Jane’s position and prepared him to give evidence at family court.