Property settlements for victims of family violence

Family violence is definitely a relevant factor in property proceedings. In property settlements for victims of family violence, the Court takes into consideration the various hardships they have had to endure. Depending on the specific circumstances of each case, a person who has experienced family violence may find that they are entitled to a greater share of the asset pool than they might otherwise have received had they not been subjected to violence.

The effects of family violence can be relevant at several stages of the property settlement process. In some cases, one party may be able to demonstrate that their contributions to the relationship, either financially or otherwise, were impacted or made ‘more onerous’ by their experience of violence, and so should be given greater weight than the contributions of the other party. In other situations, one party may be able to demonstrate that their experience of violence has had an ongoing impact on their healthcare needs or will negatively affect their ability to work or care for children in the future. This may lead to them receiving an adjustment in their favour to account for their greater future needs over and above those of the violent perpetrator.

The 2011 Family Court matter of Coad & Coad is a clear example of a case where both above situations applied. In this matter, the parties were together for 10 years and had one child. At the time of separation, the Wife was severely assaulted by the Husband, and he was convicted of the following: attempted murder, intentionally causing serious injury, and endangering life in respect to a person who came to her assistance. He was sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment. During the incident, the Wife suffered a fractured eye socket and cheekbone, a broken nose, and was so severely bruised her child did not recognise her in the hospital. Her cheek had to be reconstructed with a titanium plate, she was not able to see properly for several months, and she had difficulty balancing, breathing, and bathing herself.

The Judge accepted that not only had the Wife’s injuries made her care of the child after separation more onerous than it ordinarily would have been, but she had also sustained life-long injuries that would continue to impact her capacity to work and care for her child. The Judge assessed the parties’ contributions at 60% to the Wife and 40% to the Husband and awarded the Wife a 30% adjustment in recognition of her greater future needs. This means the Wife received 90% of available asset pool.

If you are experiencing family violence, it is important to seek support and advice from those best qualified to help you. Just Family Law is available to assist you with your family law matters. In the case of an emergency, you should call 000.

If you would like advice in relation to your family law matter, contact our team on (03) 9793 7888 or by email on or get started now online to make an appointment with one of our family lawyers.