Family farming legal stoush ends in $300,000 payout

QUEENSLAND'S highest court has finalised a family dispute and ordered a woman's in-laws to pay her about $300,000 for her contribution to a family farming business after a marriage breakdown.

For 18 years Donna Nolan worked and lived on a property in the Darling Downs while she was married to farmer Anthony Nolan, who ran a business from the property with his parents.

Mr Nolan's parents owned the property and during the years Ms Nolan contributed in various ways, including being the director of the family's spraying business.

Ms and Mr Nolan split in 2009, sparking a legal dispute over her entitlements. Last year a judge ordered she take a 25% stake of the farming business's assets.

But her former husband and former parents-in law-fought this in the Queensland Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday the Queensland Court of Appeal found in the family's favour.

Justice David Boddice said in the judgment the parents - Brian and Majella Nolan - sold their Toowoomba family home in 1992 and bought the property.

Last year a judge said Ms Nolan should be entitled to 25% because of a previous agreement the family had reached in 1993; two years after Ms and Mr Nolan married.

The family agreed Ms Nolan hold 25% stake in the business partnership, with her husband holding another 25% and the remaining 50% going to a trust.

The judge declared Ms Nolan was part of the "common endeavour" in the farming enterprise and contributed to labour and family welfare. She also contributed financially when working in other jobs outside the farm.

But Justice Boddice said the judge did not consider the differing circumstances of other parties.

This included the "significant contributions" the parents made when they purchased the property in 1985 for $690,000.

Justice Boddice said Ms Nolan's contribution to the farming business would be reflected by awarding her a 17.5% share of the assets; about $319,050.

The Queensland Court of Appeal allowed the family's appeal but ordered they pay Ms Nolan that amount.



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