Case Watch - Family Law

Royalty rights are "property"The case of Pope & Pope [2012] FamCA 204 (3 April 2012) deals with property proceedings after the breakdown of a nine-year marriage. The husband, a founding member of a successful entertainment group formed four years prior to cohabitation with his wife issued proceedings against his wife for property settlement. The parties had one child together who was under the age 18 years, and the wife had an adult son. Prior to cohabitation the wife possessed a motor vehicle and $10,000 in savings while the Husband had $1.9million, being the value of his one quarter share in the successful entertainment group and an annual income of $237,000. The Husband suffering from ill health, two years after separation, was paid out his one quarter share in the group while retaining a share of royalties. Ryan J considered the treatment of the husband’s future royalties and concluded at [118]: “There is no doubt that the husband is contractually entitled to receive both types of royalty streams which, for example, he can assign and sell. In my view the royalty income constitutes property within the meaning of s79(4).” Ultimately Ryan J assessed approximately three quarters of the pool of assets in favour of the husband based upon his far greater initial contributions, the significance of his contribution to the subsequent acquisition of income and the asset pool as well as the far greater financial contributions made by him overall, balanced with the parties’ respective contributions which followed cohabitation and other factors. There was no adjustment made under the s75(2) due to the similar overall standard of living of both parties. Glade-Wright, R. (2012), Big money case – Royalty rights are “property” – Historical valuation of interest in entertainment group, Law Institute Journal, Volume 86 Issue 11, page 67.

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