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Mutual commitment to a shared life not found

Mutual commitment to a shared life not found

  1. When it was put to her that she had begun referring to Mr Medved as her partner very early in their relationship, that is in about 2007, Ms Meadows replied: “partner, boyfriend, same thing. It’s all, to me, the same thing.”
  2. As I pointed out to her at the time, the distinction between those terms was what this trial was all about.
  3. In Elias and Elias[2] (“Elias”), a decision of Goldstein J in the Family Court of Australia in 1977, His Honour found that the husband in Elias could not “be heard to say to the Commissioner for Taxation that the […] business is half his and half his wife’s and yet to say to her and this Court that it is all his.”[3]
  4. Applying that principle to this case, I find that the Applicant cannot be heard to say to Centrelink, VicRoads, her car’s insurer and her bank between 2012 and 2014 that she was a single woman living at the Property A property, and then to say to this Court that she and the Respondent were in a de facto relationship living at the Property B property for that period.

The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life

  1. The evidence of the Applicant is that she was fully committed to a permanent and exclusive relationship with the Respondent from the time she moved into the Property B property in about May 2012 until he abruptly left and went overseas, without informing her until just before his departure, in July 2014.
  2. It is her evidence that she expected to marry Mr Medved, and that he had told her that they would be together forever. However, she conceded that Mr Medved had never actually proposed to her.
  3. Indeed it is her evidence that, having grown tired of waiting for Mr Medved to propose, she had bought him a silver ring and proposed to him, only to be told “not like that”.
  4. The Respondent’s evidence is that he was never fully committed to such a relationship with the Applicant, that he saw their relationship as that of “boyfriend and girlfriend”, and that he had had sexual relationships with other partners at various times during his relationship with Ms Meadows.
  5. He conceded that he had referred to Ms Meadows as his partner or his “Missus” during the relationship, but it was his view that those terms are easily applied to a person to whom one is not committed in terms of a shared life together.
  6. In mid-2013, Mr Medved was diagnosed with several sexually transmitted diseases, and his Doctor apparently stated that he could have caught those diseases at virtually any time before being diagnosed.
  7. Ms Meadows, on the other hand, was tested negative for any such diseases in mid-2013, and it is her evidence that she was “disgusted” when she discovered that Mr Medved had tested positive. Indeed, Mr Medved’s evidence is that the parties’ sexual relationship and any intimacy between them ceased at that time, and that he considers that that is when the relationship actually ended.
  8. In addition, two witnesses who had sworn affidavits in support of Mr Medved told the court at trial that as far as they were aware, while they knew about the relationship between Ms Meadows and Mr Medved, and had spent time with them together over the years, they did not see them as having lived together as a committed couple.
  9. I note that another of Mr Medved’s friends had filed an affidavit in similar terms, although he was not required for cross-examination at trial.
  10. Further, it was Ms Meadows’s evidence at trial that she had told Mr Medved that she wanted to buy a property with him when she received a payout from a personal injury claim in 2013, but that “he didn’t want to do anything about it”.
  11. When I asked the Applicant at trial whether she understood that it was possible that she had felt totally committed to Mr Medved while he had not felt the same commitment to her, she responded that “he was definitely committed”.
  12. Nevertheless, on all the evidence before the court, I cannot find that there was a mutual commitment to a shared life between these parties.
  13. I have no doubt that Ms Meadows was fully committed to having a shared life with Mr Medved, and that she was devastated when he went overseas in July 2014 without telling her he was leaving until just before his departure.
  14. In contrast however, while Mr Medved appears to have been prepared to accept all the benefits of the relationship Ms Meadows believed she was in, he did not share her commitment to their relationship, or to a shared life with her.
  15. I therefore find that they did not have a significant degree of mutual commitment to a shared life together.

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