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Under the Australian no-fault based divorce system, a  divorce lawyer  may tell you that a former spouse or partner that expends joint monies on gambling or extravagant personal spending is not sufficient reason for a property adjustment in the other partner’s favour. However, on a case-by-case approach, a divorce lawyer can ask that the Courts may consider adjusting your property settlements when there is substantial wastage by one party.

In Padfield v Padgett [2015], Baker J found two kinds of conduct were relevant when considering adjustment to property under the Family Law Act 1975:

a)      Where one of the parties has embarked upon a course of conduct designed to reduce or minimise the effective value or worth of matrimonial assets, or

b)      Where one of the parties has acted recklessly, negligently or wantonly with matrimonial assets, the overall effect of which has reduced or minimised their value.

How can a divorce lawyer help?

In Padfield v Padgett, the Court found that the husband had indeed gone about the parties’ funds in a way that meant they were reduced to the detriment of the wife. Specifically, he withdrew funds from bank accounts and failed to comply with orders that required him to make payments without explanation sufficient before the Court. The Court found in favour of the wife by a 10% adjustment of the property, which resulted in a 70/30 property settlement in the wife’s favour.

While it is not possible for a divorce lawyer to always make out a strong wastage argument, it is a worthy warning to those seeking how to divorce to be aware of their behaviour in respect of joint and separate property. While it may not be the equivalent of gambling that rises the mortgage on the family home; or a substantial credit debt of one party due to a lavish lifestyle, substantial selling or moving of monies or property jointly owned without a clear explanation has been found to meeting a waste argument.

A divorce lawyer from our team  with extensive property knowledge can assist and advise in your property settlement. Our Accredited Family Law Specialists are able to look at the best outcome for you and give you advice as to your legal rights and entitlements.

For legal advice in relation to divorce, contact a divorce lawyer  from our team on 1800 300 170 or email us at

You may also click to visit our Separation and Divorce page.

Family law situations can be complex and sometimes they can involve serious issues.  Information outlined is proposed to provide general guidance only. Due to the seriousness of legal matters as well as the uniqueness of your individual situation, professional advice should be sought. For advice, please contact one of our Family Lawyers.