Bradley (‘the husband’) met Tamara (‘the wife’) at university in 1997. They were both studying at medical school however Tamara was on a student exchange from Russia – where she was born and raised. It was love at first sight and they married that same year – 3 months into their relationship. The day after the wedding ceremony they also began living together – before this time the husband was living at home with his parents and Tamara was boarding on-campus.
At the time of marriage the husband did not have any assets. The wife had $11,000 in a savings account. The wedding was a small affair with minimal cost and fuss.
Both Tamara and Bradley graduated from medical school in 1998.
In 1998, one month after graduating, Tamara secured a nursing internship at a public hospital nearby and was eventually offered a full time position. However, in early 2000 (a year into her employment) she found out she was pregnant and gave birth to their first child – Lily Jones. Lily Jones was born on 1 August 2000.
During this time the husband completed his medical internship and in 2005 became a fully registered general practitioner at a private hospital where he still works today – The Melbourne Private Hospital.
Following the birth of Lily the wife did not return back to work. The main reason for this is because they did not have any family who could help with the care of Lily (the wife’s family lived in Russia and the husband’s family lived 1.5 hours away in rural Victoria) and could not afford child care. Further, the parties decided that it was in the best interests of their family if the husband continued to work, while Tamara stayed at home, due to his greater income capacity.
In 2011, Tamara contemplated returning back to work however she had fallen pregnant again.
Their second daughter Rosie Jones was born on 1 February 2012.
Between 2000 and 2013, the wife did not work. She was the primary carer of their children and also undertook all home-making duties – this included, but was not limited to; the nursing and feeding of the children, taking them to appointments (such as the dentist), she organised the birthday parties, drove Lily to school and other extra-curricular activities (including tennis and piano lessons), she helped Lily with her homework every night, she cooked everyday for the children and husband, she cleaned, shew paid the bills (electricity, internet, insurance etc.), and dealt with all repair and maintenance issues of their home.
In doing so, this allowed for the husband to continue working to not only provide for the family but also establish a well-known, highly respected reputation within the medical community – which he did.
Since beginning his career in 2005 at The Melbourne Private Hospital, the husband consistently worked an average of 50 hours per week and had an annual income between $150,000 – $200,000.
In January 2014, the wife returned to work on a part-time basis. The wife hired a nanny to take care of the children on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while she was at work. Thus, although she did return to work, she only had 2 x 6 hours shifts p/week and therefore was able to
continue as the primary carer and homemaker for the family.
At the beginning of 2015 the husband and wife started experiencing difficulties within their marriage. The wife was extremely frustrated with the number of hours that the husband was working. He had promised her multiple times to cut down on the number of shifts he was doing. It was also at this time she started to express her desire to relocate the family to Russia, on a permanent basis. She missed her family and wanted them to have a stronger relationship with her children. The husband did not entertain this idea – which frustrated the wife. The husband thought the wife was being irrational and this was the cause of a number of arguments. The husband strongly felt that Australia was the best place to raise their children and there was no need to relocate to a foreign country.
Over the course of the year the tension grew, the arguments became more frequent and lasted longer in duration – the parties would go weeks without speaking.
The parties separated on 20 December 2015. They were divorced on 17 June 2017.
Between 1997 to 2005 the parties rented a small apartment in Strathmore. Between completing their degrees, undertaking their internships and having Lily – times were tough. There were times when they could not afford to buy train tickets to get to work, clothing for Lily or to even pay their rent. Often they would have to ask the husbands parents for money – his parents were very generous and it is estimated that they gave the parties approx. $50,000 during the marriage. The majority of this money was spent on items for Lily and rent.
However, in 2005, when the husband became a fully registered GP and his income increased
substantially, they were able to purchase their first property together, in joint names, for
$450,000 (‘the matrimonial home’ at 10 Rose Street, Coburg). The husband’s parent’s gifted
them $20,000 and the wife’s parent’s gifted $10,000 toward the purchase price of the home.
The rest was borrowed from the ANZ Bank. The husband has always paid the mortgage
which is currently $650 per week. The wife continues to live in the home with Lily and
Since returning to work in 2014 on a part-time basis, the wife has earnt $220 p/week – she has used her earnings to primarily pay for food for the family.
The parties have always fought over money; particularly the wife’s spending. The wife loves designer handbags (her favourite are from Chanel) and watches. Since 2010 she has spent about $37,000 on handbags and $29,000 on watches (she owns 2 x Rolex’s). They have all been purchased using the joint credit card which still has a debt of $16,000 today.
The husband’s father very recently passed away and has left him $600,000 and he is not sure if the wife will be entitled to this. He wants to ensure she does not get her hands on his father’s hard earned money.
He also thinks the wife has money hidden in a bank account in Russia and knows that prior to getting married she inherited an apartment but does not know if she still owns it as she never discussed it with him.
The current assets are:
– The house: $450,000
– His superannuation with HESTA: $340,000 (last he looked)
– Her superannuation with MAP: $3,500
– His Mercedes Benz C63 2013: worth $75,000 (purchased brand new by the husband in 2013)
– Her BMW 1 Series 2008: worth $7,000 (purchased brand new by the husband in 2008)
– The wife’s apartment in the Russia – the husband thinks it is worth $310,000
The liabilities are:
– ANZ Bank mortgage on matrimonial home: $140,000
– The joint credit card: $16,000 (that he has been paying the minimum on and continues to use it)
During November 2015, a month prior to separation, there were 2 separate occasions where the police were called to attend the matrimonial home. On the first occasion she alleged that the husband yelled and screamed at her and called her vulgar names to put her down. She also told police that he threatened to hurt her and curt her off from all of the bank accounts so that she had no access to money. On the second occasion, the wife obtained a large bruise on her forehead. She blamed the husband for this, saying that during one of their arguments he threw the TV remote at her and kicked the family dog in a fit of rage. The husband denied all of the allegations and the police took no action.
On 20 December, the husband came home to find the wife packing Rosie’s bedroom. He questioned what she was doing and she told him she was leaving. The husband tried to stop her from leaving and was trying to put things away that she was trying to pack. While doing so he found 4 more handbags that he had never seen before stashed in Rosie’s bedroom. He screamed at her “You’re crazy. What is wrong with you!? Look at these handbags! You have an addiction! Stop wasting my money!”
After 30 minutes of shouting at one another the husband begged his wife not to go. Rosie and Lily were standing by the whole time, watching all that was going on. The wife then picked up a chair and broke it over the husband’s head, the husband tried to push her away. The wife ran out of the house and called 000. The police arrived and the wife was hysterical. The police asked the husband to leave the house and not return until the next day. They did not take out an intervention order on behalf of the wife at that time.
The husband stayed at a hotel that night and the following day he received a phone call from the police asking him to come down to the station. Upon his arrival he was served with an
intervention order naming the wife and children as protected family members and they advised the husband that he could no longer live in the house. The interim order stated he was prohibited from being at the house and committing family violence against them. He noted the order was taken out by the wife and not the police.
The husband then returned back to the house with a police officer to collect his personal items. He then found an apartment in South Yarra to rent. He did not fight the Intervention Order; he was too upset to attend the court hearing and didn’t understand the seriousness of the order. He did not think he had done anything wrong particularly as he had no intention to, and had never, injured or physically hurt either his wife or children. A final order was made naming the wife and the children as protected persons and it does not come to an end until April 2019.
Since separation the husband has spent supervised time with Rosie at a play centre as the wife would not agree to him seeing her unsupervised. They had arranged this with the assistance of a family dispute resolution practitioner, as is allowed under the IVO. He has tried on 2 occasions to increase his time but the wife refuses.
The husband has a special bond with Rosie and wants to play a more active, daily role in her life – he has regrets as to the little time and involvement he played in Lily’s childhood. He has also cut down on his working hours to make this possible – he is currently working an average of 30 – 35 hours p/week. The husband wants to take Rosie to her dancing and tennis lessons, take her to school and help her with her homework – she is currently in Grade 1. Also, as she is named on the order the husband does not contact the school and does not know how she is progressing.
The husband also pays child support and supervisor fees.
When the husband spent time with Rosie at the play centre last month she told him that she had a secret and that her mum told her not to say anything. The husband asked her to tell him and she said that her mum was taking her on a trip to Russia very soon. He knows that Lily’s valid Australian passport is in the wife’s possession but the Australian passport Rosie was issued when she was 2 has expired and is extremely worried that the wife may have forged his signature on an Australian passport application and has already left Australia. Rosie did not turn up to the last scheduled supervised visit – this past weekend. He also asked the supervisor where Rosie was and the supervisor said she was under the impression she was coming to the visit. The supervisor tried calling the wife’s mobile but it is switched off.
Action Required – IMPORTANT
A client interview was held between Anthony Pratt (your ‘principal lawyer’) and Bradley Jones (the ‘client’). The client has sought advice regarding a number of children and property issues.
The husband wants Rosie to remain in Australia and wants to ensure that the wife is prevented from removing her out of the country without his permission. He does not want the child to travel internationally until she is 18 years of age – or with his consent. If the wife is to travel overseas then Rosie must stay with him.
The husband wants Rosie to live with him and wants sole responsibility. He wants to be responsible for all matters regarding her health, wellbeing and education. He has indicated that he will agree to allow the wife to spend half the school holidays with Rosie.
He has a fractured relationship with Lily but he wants to mend this relationship and wants to spend equal time with her and to see her freely.
In respect of the property the husband wants the matrimonial home placed on the market. He is happy to split the proceeds 50/50 however he wants to keep his superannuation funds and to protect his inheritance. He is also worried that the wife will want him to pay spousal support which he will not agree to.
This includes discussing, if applicable, and not limited to the following;
matters that are in dispute; the type of application that needs to be filed; any jurisdictional and eligibility requirements that must be met to initiate an application; any steps that the client will need to undertake (eg. pre-action steps and disclosure requirements); costs or time limitations involved; advise on the orders you will seek that are reasonable and realistic; advise on what the Court takes into account with respect to children and property and how the court obtains information if that matter is contested; offer an assessment as to the possible outcomes based on your instructions; the action to be taken; and explain the court process.