The songwriter Richard Clapton, in 1975, warned:
Girls on the avenue, they’re trying to get you in,
Strolling by with their rosebud smiles.
Sadly, Mr Sha didn’t heed such advice.
While living with his wife, in Melbourne, Mr Sha engaged the services of a young lady with a ‘rosebud smile’. While in less kinder times she would have been called something else, her profession is now one of sex worker.
But don’t you slip don’t you slip
In love with the girls on the avenue
The Judge tells us that Mr Sha met Ms Cham in a massage parlour. They began ‘having sex; discussed having a baby and she stopped work at his request’. He probably didn’t want to share her with anyone else, which seems fair enough when you fall in love.
Mr Sha gave her money. He helped with her mortgage. This lady ‘with eyes of fire’ even got Mr Sha to sign a Binding Financial Agreement.
One of the natural consequences of having unprotected sex with a sex worker is that she became pregnant, albeit with the help of IVF.
The question before the Court was Mr Sha in a de facto relationship when he signed the Binding Financial Agreement? Family lawyers tell me that you can’t have more than one person as a ‘partner’. I think that was wrong. This case proves that the family lawyers are wrong.
When you build Wills on our law firm’s website one of the questions deals with who can challenge a Will. Both a spouse and a defacto can challenge your Will. The Full Court said:
“In determining whether two people have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis the court has regard to all of the circumstances of their relationship. Whether such a relationship exists depends on an assessment of all of the circumstances of the relationship. Each circumstance is given such weight as the court considers appropriate (see Sinclair & Whittaker  FamCAFC 129).”
Justice Lynam at 131 stated:
“Each element of a relationship draws its colour and its significance from the other elements, some of which may point in one direction and some in the other. What must be looked at is the composite picture. Any attempt to isolate individual factors and to attribute to them relative degrees of materiality or importance involves a denial of common experience and will almost inevitably be productive of error.
The endless scope for differences in human attitudes and activities means that there is an almost infinite variety of combinations of circumstances which may fall for consideration.”
Interestingly, although bigamy is still illegal in Australia, Mr Sha is deemed, under the eyes of Australian law, at least, married to both his wife and his sex worker: Sha & Cham  FamCAFC 161, 16 August 2017.
Under Australian law you can be ‘married’ to your spouse, mistress and gay partner; all at the same time. No doubt provided that you have the money and time.
When accountants, financial planners and lawyers build their clients’ 3-Generation Testamentary Trust Wills, Power of Attorney and Medical POAs on our website, one of the questions is ‘who can challenge your Will’. There are training videos and hints on this topic.
Please telephone us for help building these documents online.
Adjunct Professor, Dr Brett Davies, CTA, AIAMA, BJuris, LLB, LLM, MBA, SJD
Legal Consolidated Barristers and Solicitors
National Australian law firm