Do I get an adjustment for “Special Skill”?
The full Court in Kane v Kane has decided that there is no separate doctrine of special contribution or special skill that should be looked at separately but the Court should look at that aspect in context of balancing contributions generally.
Kane v Kane involved a 29 year relationship with the contributions in general being equal. However, the Husband made decisions in relation to the Superannuation fund. In the course of managing the Super fund the Husband after research decided to invest in a particular company. The Wife was reluctant but the investment was made and ultimately the investment resulted in a substantial windfall for the Superannuation fund.
The trial Judge adjusted the assets outside of the Super equally (roughly $400,000.00 each) and the Super fund worth $3.4 million – 2/3rd in favour of the Husband and 1/3rd in favour of the Wife. This resulted in an overall split of all matrimonial assets of about 64% to the Husband and 36% to the Wife.
The Wife appealed. The full Court was not entirely convinced that the windfall in the Super fund was as a result of any special skill or acumen. The full Court saw it more as purchasing a lottery ticket. The full Court noted that if losses were made in investment portfolios parties did not generally seek to have losses attributed to the party responsible for making the investment decision.
The Court decided that any separate doctrine of “special contribution” should be reconsidered. The Court noted that “it is almost impossible to determine questions such as – ‘was he a good businessman/artist/surgeon or just lucky? Was she a good cook/housekeeper/entertainer or just an attractive personality? We think it invidious for a Judge to in effect to ‘give marks’ to a Wife or Husband during a marriage.”
As a result, the Court decided that all contributions should be assessed in an overall consideration of the factors in Section 79 (4) (which the Court noted did not contain the words “like/special” or “extraordinary”.
So your “special contribution” or “special skill” will be taken into account but only as part of an analysis on an overall assessment rather than being viewed in isolation.