Welcome to Ivy Law Group’s Podcast – The Family Five! 

Future needs is one of four considerations that are taken into account by the Court when deciding a family law property settlement. 

But what exactly are future needs and how do you know if you have any? Do you need to provide provide proof of those needs? 

We discuss all this and more in this week’s episode. 

Transcript: How do I know what my future needs are?


Jessica Hamilton (JH): Hello and welcome to the Family Five Podcast with Ivy Law Group where we tackle the tough family law issues in the time it takes you to drink your coffee. I’m Jessica Hamilton, I’m the Marketing Manager for Ivy Law Group, and I’m joined by my boss, Shane Neagle, who is the director of Ivy Law Group and the family lawyer extraordinaire. In this podcast, we will take a five in five approach, five questions in five minutes. Our aim is to keep the podcast light, easy to understand, and to give you some valuable information to take away with you.

JH: And here we are again, back with another episode. How are things going in the world of Shane?

Shane Neagle (SN): I hope you said Shane, not shame. I say the world of shine is going well. *LAUGHS*

JH: All right, so in last week’s episode we talked about contributions. This week we’re going to talk about future needs. So first things first, what exactly are future needs in family law – in layman’s terms?

SN: Jessica, layperson terms, here we go.

This is the third step – followig on from contributions. Future needs are the factors that are relevant to consider for each party moving into the future. It’s step three of the four step test that the court takes in account, although I keep saying it’s five steps, let’s just work on the four steps.

They include (and I’m talking to our listeners) age and state of health of you and the other person, the income, property and financial resources (and that means a beneficiary of a trust for example) of you and the other party, and importantly, the physical and mental capacity of each of you to obtain gainful employment. That’s a really critical factor that can come into account, as to which party has got the care of control of a child or children of a relationship.

The next one, what are the commitments of you and the other party necessary to support you or a child or any other person that you’ve got a duty to maintain. And it can be sometimes you’re a carer of a parent or even a high needs child. Also, are you eligible for a pension allowance or government benefit? These are factors that the court can take into account. Also, can you maintain a reasonable standard of living? Are you or the other party now living with another person because the other person might enter into a relationship with a very wealthy magnate and that gets taken into account. Are you or the other person paying child support? They’re the common future needs.

Can I just say, the job of the court here is not to even up the financial position of each party, but to determine whether an adjustment of percentage is needed to give a just an equitable outcome.

JH: So, following on from that, say someone’s future needs are that they have primary care of a child or children and therefore they can’t work full time. Does that mean they’ll get a swing in their favour in a family law settlement?

SN: They are your classic example whether someone’s got more care than the other of the children, and the earning capacity of each person. Usually you can have one person that’s very wealthy in terms of income, over the other person due to the duration of the marriage which had an effect on their earning capacity. They’re your classic examples. You asked about whether the impact of children in extra care (will determine future needs). Well, that’s a classic where the court will bend over backwards if it sees that the other person’s going to be able to work readily, but this other person’s at home, for example, with a child living with autism. Yeah. And the court will adjust accordingly.

JH: So would one person’s future needs outweigh the others? For example, say one person’s future needs are based on their employment status, but the other is based on health conditions that might require ongoing medical care. How is this then decided? Is one future need more important than the other?

SN: It’s funny that you asked that Jessica. Because the recent case of ours highlights how important these future needs factors can be in certain cases.

In this case, it dealt with the husband and wife where the husband had been the main breadwinner through the entire relationship. And the wife was the homemaker who looked after their 17 year old son with autism. It was interesting because the husband received a $1.4 million injury compensation payment, which totalled 60% of the whole net asset pool, and was agreed that the wife could work and that husband would have difficulty due to his injury. But the judge there noted that her ability to work was affected by three things. She had been home looking after the children in the house and had not worked for 24 years. She had no formal qualification skills or training and would have had to retrain at 52, and the care of the child with autism required day-to-day care. And the judge there assessed the party’s contributions, and remember step two, as 75/25 in favour of the husband because of the massive injection into the pool. However, after considering the wife’s future needs there, the court made a 15% adjustment to the wife bringing the final percentage split to 60/40 in favour of the husband.

JH: Okay, So on that then, do you need to provide evidence to the court as to your future needs? If so, how do you go about doing this?

 We engage experts. For example, a recruitment consultant, as to the future income forgone due to a client’s decision to put their family before a career. So they say, no, I’m going to stay home with the autistic child. And also there’s tables that help you to work out future disparity of net income or the capital cost of children. You normally would have evidence deduced from a forensic accountant who would put all those tables and formulas together by way of an expert report. Well, the court’s not obliged to make any adjustment. And it really comes down to the context, the particular set of facts of that relationship.

The last example we just gave is your classic. Even though this compensation came at the end, the wife would’ve been carrying the heavy load with the young child and and couldn’t get back into the workplace. It just wasn’t going to be fair. It’s no guarantee there’s going to be adjustment. You need these kinds of cases where it would be just and equitable to do it.

JH: So let’s move on to my favorite part of the podcast, which is the joke section. Take it away, Shane.

SN: I wouldn’t be getting too excited Jess, because they’re not that good. But why are elevator jokes the best? Because they work on so many levels. Boom, Boom.

JH: Have you got any others?

SN: Why is Peter Pan always flying? He never lands. Get it.

JH: Never, neverland. Bye everybody. Thanks Shane.

SN: Thank you so much Jessica.


JH: Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to save us to your favourites wherever you listen to your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. It’s important to note that the contents of this podcast are intended as a general guide to the subject matter. And if you are looking for specific advice about your individual circumstances, then we would recommend getting in touch with one of our friendly family lawyers. 

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