The Effect of Domestic Violence on Property Settlement

You may recall seeing some upsetting headlines in the news like:

“Killer husband was free on bail”

“Tara Brown murder could have been prevented”

“Hervey Bay shooting: triple shooting treated as double murder-suicide”

Domestic violence affects all spectrums of society – young, old, pregnant, male, female, short term relationships, long term relationships. There is no exception. However, in recent years, society has become more aware of domestic violence and the importance of changing the mentality surrounding domestic violence with campaigns like “Not Now, Not Ever” in Queensland and “It stops here” in New South Wales.

In 1997, the Court in Kennon v Kennon took the first step in recognising the serious impact of domestic violence on a person. Domestic violence is now considered, in the family law realm, as an issue that can be considered in appropriate cases when determining the respective entitlements of parties for the division of their matrimonial property pool. However, it is necessary that more than the existence of domestic violence in a relationship must be shown before a Court will make any adjustment in favour of a party who has suffered domestic violence and in practice it is likely that this factor will lead to an adjustment for property settlement in favour of a party in only a narrow band of cases.

However, proving this argument is not simple. You must provide evidence to the court, and not in a generalised nature, of specific incidents when you suffered from domestic violence.

Before a court may make an adjustment in favour of a party who has suffered domestic violence from the former partner, the court must be satisfied that:-

  1. There was a violent course of conduct by one party towards the other;
  2. That violent conduct occurred during the relationship;
  3. That that conduct is demonstrated to have had a significant adverse impact upon that party’s contribution to the relationship or to have made those contributions significantly more arduous;
  4. There is a connection between the violence and the contribution.

There must be sufficient evidence to enable a court to quantify the effect of the violence upon the party’s capacity to make contributions in the relationship.

If you would like advice in this area, contact our family lawyers Brisbane or our family lawyers Brisbane Northside who will be happy to assist you.

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