Being married and having a partner on the side is not something new, for some. What some don’t understand though is, should the marriage breakdown and the secret relationship break down, both ex partners may be entitled to a division of property from the party who was enjoying the best of both worlds.
There was a man who was married with three children, however had a secret girlfriend for some 17 years. The Husband and his secret girlfriend traveled overseas together, spent 2 to 3 days together every few weeks at the Husband’s farm, before he would return home to his wife and children in a different state. The Husband helped the secret girl friend buy her first home and provided her with financial support. The Court found that the parties maintained separate lives, but came together on a regular basis to enjoy a relationship. The parties rarely socialised as a couple. The Court ultimately determined that the parties were not in a de facto relationship and therefore there was no property settlement between the husband and the secret girlfriend.
If circumstances were a little different in the above case compared to the below case, the 17 year secret girlfriend may have potentially had entitlement to a fairly large portion of the Husband’s property.
A different scenario took place in a recent 2017 decision which involved a man who was living with his wife, whilst also enjoying the benefits of a secret girlfriend for 18 months. The husband met his secret girlfriend, a sex worker, at a massage parlour where the secret girlfriend worked. The husband occasionally stayed overnight at the secret girlfriend’s house and paid amounts towards her mortgage. The parties discussed having a baby together and eventually did have a child together. The husband and the wife then separated whilst the secret girlfriend was pregnant. The husband and secret girlfriend separated around a year later. The husband here was subject to two property settlements, one with his wife and one later with the secret girlfriend.
The above cases demonstrate that whether the secret partner may be entitled to a property settlement depends on the particular factors of the case.
If you are unsure if a secret relationship will give rise to a property settlement, contact the family law team at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers who have offices in Toowoomba and Brisbane.