Special Contributions

Special Contributions

It has often been argued in family law matters that one party’s special skill or talent (especially where such skill or talent has resulted in the acquisition of a substantial or exceptional level of net assets), should receive additional recognition. This notion, often referred to as “special contributions”, has received some intermittent and controversial recognition in the case law (especially) since the early 1990s (see Whiteley in 1992 and Ferraro in 1993)

Two recent full-court decisions, however, seem to have reduced scope for recognition of such special contributions arguments.

In Kane [2013] FamCAFC 205, the full-court said:

“We agree with Murphy J that the notion of ‘special contributions’ necessarily predisposes matters to an outcome that may not otherwise be available upon a proper assessment of all the contributions.”

In Hoffman  [2014] FamCAFC 92, the full-court said:

“We consider that the true position is, with respect, put correctly and succinctly by O’Ryan J in D & D [2005] FamCA 1462 at [271]: “…the notion of special contribution has all been a terrible mistake … what I have to do is identify and assess the contributions made by each of the parties without any presumption of entitlement…

“In summary, we do not consider that there is any “legitimate guideline” of “special contributions” or any such guideline pertaining to particular contributions.”