The conduct of the parties isn't usually considered relevant
to family law property settlement, however the Court may make an
exception when violence is a contributing factor to the
When determining property settlement matters the Court is
required to take into account the contributions made by each person
to the acquisition, improvement, and maintenance of their assets,
the contributions made to each other and the contributions made to
the welfare of the family.
In exceptional circumstance, it has been successfully argued
that domestic violence victims make greater contributions as their
ability to contribute is significantly more difficult. This may
alter the overall property settlement, as in the case of Kennon
and Kennon .
The case involved a four year marriage with no children. The
wife claimed that she should receive an additional percentage of
the asset pool due to the assault and battery inflicted on her
throughout the relationship. The Court made an adjustment in her
favour based on the family violence she had experienced.
It was established during the case that the following elements
must be present in order for a party to receive an adjustment in
his or her favour in the determination of property interests on the
basis of violence:
A violent course of conduct
During the marriage
Proof of a significant adverse/discernible impact on the
party's contributions to the marriage or having made those
contributions significantly more arduous.
Subsequent cases suggest that:
There must be evidence of the relevant course of conduct and
its impact upon the other party's contributions
It's necessary to prove a connection between the violence
The claim can only be established by probative evidence that
satisfies the Court on the balance of probabilities.
In Kennon and subsequent cases the Courts have indicated that an
adjustment on the basis of domestic violence will only be made in
exceptional circumstances and in a "narrow band of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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