How can family violence affect my property settlement?

Family violence issues can commonly arise in family law matters, in particular cases that go through the Family Court.

People generally understand that family violence can impact parenting matters, but are often unsure of the impact it can have on property settlement. This article will help you understand the ways in which family violence can affect your property settlement.

Court proceedings that involve family violence related to property matters are often more complex than those involving parenting issues. This is because family violence can have considerable impact on parenting matters to safeguard the interests of children and other parties, however rarely are property entitlements adjusted due to arguments relating to family violence.

When dealing with matters where family violence has an impact on property settlements, the court looks to the precedent of Kennon and Kennon (1997). In this case, the wife claimed her husband had physically assaulted her throughout their relationship which entitled her to a larger amount of their assets. Therefore, the court will consider evidence of family violence when allocating assets, likely working in favour of the impacted party.

As a result of Kennon and Kennon (1997), three elements emerged that the court will consider when assessing a case:

  1. A violent course of conduct occurred during the marriage or relationship;
  2. Proof exists of an impact on the individual’s ability to make contributions to the marriage or relationship; and
  3. The argument and the resulting effect of the argument on entitlements will only apply in ‘exceptional circumstances’ to a ‘narrow band of cases’.

While Kennon and Kennon (1997) shone light on the issue of family violence in property cases, it did not adequately outline what would be considered proof of an impact on an individual’s ability to make contributions to the marriage or relationship, or what would be considered a violent course of conduct.

If you are struggling with family violence, No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you make well informed decisions moving forward.

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