What a Court Can do When There is a Potential Bonus

Generally, a court will determine the asset pool of the parties at the date of a trial. However, the court may treat a potential bonus differently as it did in the following case: 

  • Following separation, the husband had commenced working in Dubai and was receiving a significant salary package in excess of $400,000 per annum.  The package included a base salary, an annual company bonus, health insurance, a motor vehicle and superannuation.  
  • At the date of the trial, the husband had received advice from his employer that he would receive the previous year’s company bonus approximately three weeks after the trial. The wife sought for this bonus which was $32,000 net, be included in the pool.  
  • Whilst the general approach is to value the assets as at the date of trial, where an asset had been acquired post separation and from resources including labour, the court held it was open to find assets not to be joint matrimonial property to be divided between the parties.  
  • The court found as the bonus arose from the husband’s employment post separation and as such it should not be included in the list of assets as it was not attributed to the parties’ joint endeavours. 

It may seem reasonable to some and illogical to others. But each matter involving post-separation bonuses is unique and is addressed according to your personal circumstances. It is worthwhile to seek professional advice.