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Are High Income Earners "Super Contributors"?
16 September 2013
In the recent case of Newman & Newman  FamCA37, the Family Court dealt with a husband's claim of special contribution where he earned a high level of income and the wife contributed to the family as homemaker and parent during their 28 years of marriage.
The husband argued his high earnings throughout the marriage were a contribution "outside the normal range" and should be treated as "special". A claim of special contribution is where one party argues they have displayed exceptional skills in the creation of a business or assets and should be rewarded for this when the court assesses contributions.
The court found that the husband was able to contribute by developing his skills in employment because he was freed by the wife from the primary role of homemaker and parent. In the context of a long marriage with children, the role of homemaker and parent "should be recognised not in a token way but in a substantial way".
Over the last year, the Family Court has looked at two other special contribution cases, Smith v Fields  FamCA510 and Rebane v Rebane  FamCA970, and it has not treated the contributions made by high wage earners as being exceptional.
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