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Property settlement is not a “compensation claim”

Property settlement is not a “compensation claim”

Conclusion as to Adjustment

  1. As has been said, property adjustment proceedings are not the Court’s chance to dispense ‘palm tree justice’. It is for the applicant to satisfy the Court that the property interests of the parties should be adjusted per seand then in what manner. The Court must be satisfied that it is just and equitable to make any order adjusting the parties’ property interests. The Court is not so satisfied in the present circumstances.
  2. It was a very short marriage. The wife brought in the only significant asset of the parties[1]. The husband enjoyed the benefit of living in the home owned by the wife. He made some contributions, both financial and non-financial during the short period they lived together. The wife’s income during the parties’ relationship was more than double that of the husband for the period while he was earning an income and thereafter she was the sole income earner. The parties both shared in the home-maker role, albeit not equally, with the wife making the bulk of the contributions in this regard.
  3. In respect of the 75(2) factors the Court accepts that the wife has a much higher earning capacity than the husband and that he does suffer some health issues. However, this does not of itself mean that there should be any adjustment of their property interests in his favour. It is not a compensation claim. It is not the Court’s role to undertake social engineering or the equalisation of assets or financial resources.[2]
  4. When an asset by asset approach is adopted, there is an even more compelling argument for there to be no adjustment of property interests. The wife made some contributions of a financial nature to the assets which were held and remain in the husband’s name, and she also made the bulk if not all of the financial contributions to the former matrimonial home.
  5. Does justice and equity though call for an adjustment in the husband’s favour simply because of the increase in value of the home over time? There is no evidence that the husband made any contributions which resulted in that increase in value, or which permitted the parties to purchase the home such that they both reaped the benefit of an increase in value. But for the wife the former matrimonial home would not have come into the pool.
  6. Each party has assets in their respective possession, custody and control. They are each the legal owners of such assets. They each have liabilities in their own names. The justice and equity of this case dictate that the parties’ interests are not to be adjusted in the manner argued by the husband, or at all.

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