What rights does the mistress actually have in a divorce?

Published 11 Sep 2017

Divorces can be ugly affairs, particularly when one party has been unfaithful to the other. In these cases, sometimes the only consolation that a spouse who has been cheated on has is the knowledge that a family lawyer will help them receive their fair share of the marital assets in a divorce. What if, however, this precedent is changing in Australia?

There have been a number of NSW divorce cases in recent years where the husband's mistress (or vice-versa) was granted substantial provisions during the division of the estate. The unfortunate reason for this? Changes in de facto relationship laws.

De facto relationships in NSW

According to NSW law (as of 2009), de facto relationships are now essentially viewed the same as marriages in the eyes of the Court. These 'mistress laws', as they've been termed, mean that unfaithful spouses who have been having a long-term affair could be considered to be in a de facto relationship with their mistress, thereby giving her grounds to claim for provisions.

Such a scenario is even more likely if the couple have a child, have been together for over two years or if the spouse provided for the mistress financially over the course of their affair. The third party could then potentially bring a viable case to the Family Court - if the Court determines that the husband owes the mistress some form of compensation, it could have a significant effect on divorce proceedings.

What does that mean for the wives?

Having an unfaithful spouse is unpleasant enough - but losing a portion of the estate to a mistress is a nightmare situation for many women. Luckily, these cases are the exception, not the rule. In the majority of divorces, the asset split can be done amicably without the interference of a mistress or other extraneous third party.

However, should you find yourself in a situation where someone outside of you and your husband could potentially make a claim, it pays to seek the counsel of an experienced Parramatta family lawyer. At Malouf Solicitors, our legal professionals are well-versed in family law and will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your own unique case.

Don't let someone else take part of your estate - reach out to us today for more information.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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