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legal wife, de facto wife, official wife, de jure, estate, deceased estate, will, relationship, Family Provision Act, Court of Appeal, NSW, deceased, poverty
11 Mar 2023

The legal wife, the de facto wife and the deceased estate – which case won?

In 1938, a 24-year-old NSW man got married. His wife was 16 years old at the time. Soon after the wedding, the man was jailed for six months.

The couple had four children between 1938 and 1946. They did not have an easy life, moving around from place to place within NSW and sleeping in caravans, sheds and other rudimentary forms of accommodation.

The husband worked as a travelling drover, handyman and farm hand. He was chronically neglectful of his responsibilities to provide financially for his family, often leaving them to pursue his love of horses.

The wife often did not know where he was and was forced to work outside the home to support her family as a sole parent. She testified in subsequent court proceedings that the children often went without shoes during these years and that she was forced to move in with her mother because of a lack of money.

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