Prostitute claims “De facto Relationship” with Regular Client – Gets Property Settlement

In Sha & Cham [2017] FamCAFC 161 (16 August 2017), Ms Cham a sex worker convinced the court that she was in a de facto relationship with a regular client, Mr Sha.

Sha was a married man who met Cham at a massage parlour and started dating.

Sha claims they were not living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis at the time they signed the financial agreement and did not share a common residence.

However features of the relationship included:

  • Sha paying Cham regular amounts to her mortgage and other expenses;

  • Sha paying lump sum amounts to Cham;

  • Cham becoming pregnant through IVF treatment and giving birth to their daughter; and

  • entry into a “financial agreement” that dealt with property settlement.

The relationship between Sha and Cham broke down and Sha later divorced his wife.

In the proceedings Cham sought the enforcement of the financial agreement which gave her property entitlements.

Was there a de facto relationship?

The court considered section s4AA Family Law Act De facto relationships

Amongst other things:

  • The court accepted that Sha’s overnight stays at Cham’s house were “regular and significant”.

  • It was common ground that they had sexual intercourse “regularly throughout the relationship”.

  • Cham developed a financial dependence on Sha when she stopped work from time to time and had her expenses paid.

  • Sha argued that the signing of the “financial agreement” was not an admission of a de facto relationship. However the court thought the signing of the agreement was a “relevant consideration” even if it did not amount to an admission.​

Decision:

The court reaffirmed the parties were in a de facto relationship and ordered Sha pay Cham’s costs

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