Saberton & Saberton [2012] FamCA 870

Introduction
  1. By an amended application filed in November 2011, Ms Saberton (the wife), seeks Orders for alteration of property interests, spouse maintenance and departure from assessment of child support.  Also urged upon the Court was   enforcement of various interim orders.
  2. The respondent husband, Mr Saberton, seeks orders only for alteration of property interests.  He concedes the need for spouse maintenance for a defined period.
  3. The key to understanding the parties’ present situation is that during the marriage there was an increasingly high ratio of debt to income.
  4. At the date of separation the parties’ main assets were the family home and the husband’s office premises. Associated debts for both were secured on the home.  Apart from superannuation, there was not a great deal of property to divide.
Background
  1. The parties were married in 2001, separated in 2010 and divorced in 2011.  They lived together for a little over nine years.  There are three children of the marriage now aged eight, seven and four.  The children live with their mother and spend time with their father on an agreed basis.
  2. At the date of their marriage in Ms Saberton aged 30 was working fulltime as a professional person.  Mr Saberton aged 36 was also practising fulltime in a professional field.
  3. On marrying the couple moved into a Apartment at G owned by the wife and her parents in equal shares.
  4. The wife left her employment around late 2001 following diagnosis of an undefined chronic illness.  She recommenced work in May 2002 for two days each week.  She then only worked on a casual basis, at odd times, once her first child B was born in November 2003.
  5. In December 2002 the wife’s parents bought out their daughter’s interest in the at Apartment at G for $90,000.  At the same time the parties bought the Property at G which became the family home.  The purchase price was $1.2 million.  They borrowed a little over $1 million to fund the purchase.
  6. In 2003 B was born, followed by T in 2005 and J in 2007.
  7. The wife has provided the majority of the day to day care of the children with the assistance of their father, maternal grandparents, a nanny and at times an au pair.
  8. In July 2010 the husband left the marriage for a new relationship.  This was a devastating event for the wife.  The wife and children have remained living in the family home.  The husband lives with his new partner and their child.  The period since separation has been fraught with personal and legal conflict...
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