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 , 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.