How Can Family Violence Affect Property Orders

How Can Family Violence Affect Property Orders?

In Australia, and internationally, domestic abuse is sadly an ever-growing concern. As well as the criminal consequences which follow, family lawyers will tell you that family violence can also have implications for property settlements following a divorce.

Property settlements are determined under the Family Law Act depending on how much each side, in both financial and non-financial respects, has participated in the partnership. Previously, the actions of partners throughout a marriage were not a significant consideration, however that has changed, and one case in particular has influenced that.

The Kennon Marriage Case is one of the pioneering judgments where domestic abuse was a central factor in deciding the right of a claimant to the marital property. Kennon’s 1997 Family Court of Australia decision examined whether domestic abuse could change the result of a settlement of the property.

The husband had a considerably higher salary than his wife and had added far more money and assets to the marriage by the time they came to divorce. The wife claimed a number of abusive actions against her had occurred, comprised of seven separate charges of physical abuse, and believed that a property change in her interest should result from these actions.