A farming couple with assets totalling about $13 million has asked the Family Court for assistance in dividing their flock, after the wife complained she was left with all the poor sheep while he got the better ones.
The couple were married for 34 years have adult children and they have raised sheep all their married life.
They separated in 2012, and split their land, so that each could keep farming.
When time came to split the other assets, however, the wife argued that her husband had taken all the good sheep leaving her with a poor-quality sheep.
The husband offered to give her money, but she refused and wanted the court to give her some of the good sheep.
When asked why she wanted the sheep the wife said “I wish to have purebred flock… I have been breeding for the last 35 years. You can’t buy these sort of sheep. They’re top quality and I have none of them.”
The husband offered to pay her about $700,000 to build up her own flock, saying: “If she wants to build them, she can build them up. (She) has got ewes there, and you can put whatever ram you want over them.”
Asked why she couldn’t just take her money to the auctions and buy more good sheep, she said: “No. No. Not of the quality we had. We bred them up for 30 years.”
In arguing for more of the good sheep, the court was reminded of “the difficulty that a woman experiences when she leaves a marriage in an inferior position because of the role she has been assigned in the marriage”.
However, the court noted that “the husband has historically been the farmer… and the appropriate outcome is for the husband to retain the livestock and for the wife to receive monetary compensation. In doing so, we recognise that the wife is being deprived of the opportunity to have a share of a flock which has been bred up over many years.”
Legal costs have so far topped $2.4m or $1.2m each.
If you need legal advice in relation to family law property settlement, call Ruth Single on 02 4324 7699.