Dr Lodin and Ms Lodin were married in 1988 and had one child together. They lived together for less than two years before they were separated, andwere eventually divorced. The property dispute was settled thereafter and Ms Lodin was awarded approximately 40% of the asset pool at the time.
After the death of Dr Lodin, some 25 years after the breakdown of the relationship, Ms Lodin was successful in the first instance in recovering $750,000.00 of his $5,000,000.00 estate by virtue of s 95 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), which allows a former spouse to be considered as an eligible person for the purposes of succession and inheritance if certain criteria are met.
It is noteworthy that Dr Lodin did not leave a will, died overseas and that the entire estate would have passed to his daughter if it weren’t for the claim brought by Ms Lodin.
There were certainly some factors which justified the verdict of the District Court, including that Ms Lodin undoubtedly cared for their daughter after the separation, allowing Dr Lodin the opportunity to work ‘untrammelled by responsibility for a wife or a child’ resulting in the accumulation of assets which exceeded those at time of matrimonial settlement by 10-fold.
However, the relationship between Dr Lodin and Ms Lodin itself over this period was bitter and tumultuous. This included Ms Lodin making complaints about Dr Lodin’s ethical conduct to the Health Department, law suits against him and false complaints to police about the sexual abuse of their daughter.
The Court of Appeal however overturned this decision and found that the primary judge had incorrectly determined that there were factors warranting Ms Lodin’s application. The Court found that the applicant must show a social, domestic or moral obligation on the testator to have provided for them. Their marriage was short lived, ended 25 years ago and the residual moral obligation was discharged by the settlement and Dr Lodin’s unfailing child support payments.