Family Violence Will Affect Property Settlements!

20 FEBRUARY 2023
Family Violence Will Affect Property Settlements!

In a recent case, a couple had been married for nearly 15 years. They separated due to a variety of issues. There had been different forms of abuse during the relationship.

The husband was a tradesman who, at the start of the relationship, owned and controlled a company through which he operated his business, and other corporate and trust organisations. The company continued to operate throughout the marriage, and after the divorce the husband continued to control and manage the company.

The wife sued in the Family Court for a property settlement. 

The Court originally found the couple's assets were valued at approximately $2.5 million, however it was also found that overall debts exceeded assets by more than $800,000.00. The Court ordered that the wife was able to keep all her personal items, bank account and car along with some cash and a large amount in super.

The husband however retained full ownership of the company which generated profits of about $4 million per annum giving him a far higher quality of life compared to the wife.

The wife appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court claiming that family violence was not considered in the Court's first decision. She provided evidence of a broken nose, wrist, ribs, having been beaten up until she passed out and serious bruising, constant criticism of her parenting, resulting in three domestic violence orders. This had a severe impact on her mental wellbeing affecting her ability to contribute more to the overall assets. The husband denied all these claims except one instance in which he had undeniably broken the wife’s wrist. 

The Full Court found that there had in fact been a higher level of violence against the wife and its impact of indeed affecting her ability to contribute to the matrimonial assets. Therefore, new orders were made giving a larger share to the wife.