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Family Violence & Property Settlement

In the 1997 case of Kennon the Full Court (Family Court) stated that there is no doubt that domestic violence may be a relevant factor in assessing contribution in a property adjustment dispute:

“Where there is a course of violent conduct by one party towards the other during the marriage which is demonstrated to have had a significant adverse impact upon that party’s contributions to the marriage, or, put the other way, to have made his or her contributions significantly more arduous than they ought to have been, that is a fact which a trial judge is entitled to take into account in assessing the parties’ respective contributions.”

They recognized the difficulty in many cases of there being inadequate evidence to make a proper assessment of the incidence of domestic violence and the effect of domestic violence on contributions. 

In the recent case of Keating the Full Court again referred to the difficulties of considering domestic violence in property settlement cases and the need for evidence.  2 of the Judges noted that “[it] is well settled that a party does not require his or her evidence to be corroborated before evidence of family violence can be accepted”.  However, if inferences are to be drawn about the effect of domestic violence on contributions then it remains important for there to be an evidentiary nexus between the conduct complained of and the capacity (and or effort expended) to make relevant contributions. 

We can assist clients to provide detailed chronologies of when, where and in the presence of whom, such alleged serial violent incidents were perpetrated, and obtain any corroborating evidence from reports to Police, family and medical or psychological support services.

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