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Hartley Family Law Success Stories

“These are real life stories about successes that Brett has had for and with his clients – but relevant and personal details have been changed so as to hide any possible identification of the person/s involved”

Manufacturing business – Engineering sector

Brett was involved in acting for a client who had established a very successful engineering based business.  This business had grown throughout a long marriage where there were four children.  

The business had a substantial turnover with over 100 staff members.

One of the major difficulties in this matter was that the independent business valuation has produced a substantial value for goodwill.  In other words, the actual assets in the business were small compared to the size of the goodwill component. 

In other words, this was a business that had substantial maintainable earning, but did not have a substantial liquid set of assets. 

The business assets were somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30M, but the goodwill added a further 80-100M to the value of this business. 

There was nothing wrong with the business valuation.  This was a very successful business that had been built up by the entrepreneurial efforts of Brett’s client, but at the same time, there were important contributions made by the wife, who had raised the children and supported the husband in his business endeavours.

Ultimately at mediation the matter was able to be settled, despite the huge problems with the blue sky goodwill component. 

A settlement was structured whereby a substantial cash payment was made upfront to the wife, together with the transfer of property.  However, that alone was well below a percentage entitlement if one took the goodwill value at its highest.
The difficulty here was the sale of the business was not a possibility and even if it could be sold, it was unknown as to whether the sale price in the commercial world would reflect the substantial profits. 

There were also difficulties with making long term payments over time as it is always best to try to have a clean cut when making a final matrimonial settlement. 

Payments over a few years are okay, but in Brett’s experience, payments over a long period of time are to be avoided if possible. 

Brett was able to secure a deal for the client that provided some further payments to the wife over a two – three year period, which enabled his client to maintain his substantial business interest.

The wife was also sensible in her position with her lawyers, by agreeing to take as much of the cash and substantial property, as well as payments over a reasonable period of time.  Whilst, it could be said that the wife was receiving less than her entitlement by taking a deal less than 50%, the reality is that it was still a substantial deal with a greater guarantee of monies being received now and in the future, rather than a very expensive long and lengthy battle where an outcome may be uncertain in the future. 

The lesson to be learned from this matter, is that one always needs to focus on trying to settle even when it looks impossible.  Entering into the Mediation, Brett had grave doubts about a settlement, however, a sensible commercial approach and a very intelligent and sensible lawyer on the other side enabled this matter to reach fruition and for both parties to be able to move on substantially with their lives with all major assets intact.

“These are real life stories about successes that Brett has had for and with his clients – but relevant and personal details have been changed so as to hide any possible identification of the person/s involved”

Brett acted for a client who had a substantial logistics business.  The relationship in this matter was a second relationship for both parties of about 20 years.  There were no children although each party had children from other relationships.

The matter was somewhat difficult due to different contributions made by each party, but also due to the substantial growth of the logistic business over the later years of the marriage.

The business was valued at about $30M and the other complication was that there was a third party (a 10% shareholder) who had risen up through the management ranks and was unrelated to the parties.

The matter became further complicated due to some serious issue that the wife had been suffering from for some period of time.  The husband had contributed his business at the commencement of the relationship, but the business value at that stage was considerably less than current value.

The husband was also nearing retirement age and was concerned that his plans to pass over the business or to sell eventually to the 10% shareholder may be upset by a bitter and acrimonious matrimonial dispute.

After an extensive disclosure, valuations and mediation process, the parties were able to come to agreement and settle the matter without court litigation.

This was a pre covid matter and the husband and his business partner were able to secure funding instead of making a cash payment to the wife and also transfer various properties to her to affect her settlement that was acceptable to both parties at Mediation.

This was a matter that had many complex distinguishing features that made the matter look more difficult than what it was. The success in this matter was concentrating on how best to provide a property settlement to the wife and to do that in a clean matter so to enable the husband to keep the business and to keep the third-party business party onside.

Experienced commercial lawyers were involved in relation to the third-party deal eventually brokered (after the property settlement) with the 10% owner.  In making the detail of this deal and intentions of the husband known to the wife prior to the mediation, it assisted in the transparency and trust between the parties and helped them to reach a commercially sensible outcome.

Sometimes, matters can be more complex and the complexity of the matter can get in the way of common sense.  It is always important to make sure that you have all the details about all the little issues that can impact upon a settlement, but ultimately one must recognise counter arguments to each of those complex issues.

In other words, just because our client also received a substantial inheritance before separation, plus controlled a business, it did not mean that other contributions by the wife (a substantial redundancy early in the marriage, as well as smaller inheritances during the marriage) did not deserve due credit.  There were competing arguments both with sold grounds as to how a Court may treat the different complex issues of the case.

A successful outcome was obtained in this matter by knowing about those complexities but at the same time by still concentrating on a commercial common-sense outcome of the client, that enabled him to be able to keep his business and also his goodwill with his business partner for future endeavours.

Hartley Family Law Case Studies

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“Thank you so much for your service and making it happen in the most easy way for me to settle.  It has been a long battle for me but now I can look forward for our future.  Again, thank you”.


“Thank you for all you have done to help me.  You are kind and do your work very well.  I have also been impressed by the kind and capable supporting staff within Hartley Family Law, they are lovely people.”


“Thanks immensely for your thorough advice for my case. You are amazing….👍👍 Thanks team. I could never thank you enough for all your supportive help through my hard times.  I appreciate it a lot.”  


“Thank you for finalising this.  It is a good result considering who we are dealing with.  Thank you and Brett for assisting me with your professionalism and advice over the last 18 months. Thank you.”  


“I would highly recommend Brett and his team to manage your family law matter. Brett was able to listen with empathy to gain an understanding of the situation and continuously provided his expert advice through each step of the process. He was always thoroughly prepared and ensured all the facts and legal arguments were presented […]


“Thank you for your patience and guidance over the past few years.  Thank you for fighting for us, and for getting us the best outcome I could have ever hoped for.”



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