Over the past two decades, numerous cases of domestic violence came into limelight, which forced the implementation of various laws to deal with this social menace.
In most of the cases, it ultimately results in separation of the two parties, the husband and the wife.
While the family law courts consider the violence occurred during the marriage, what still remains unclear is the impact of domestic violence in the property settlement.
How Property Settlements are done?
While dealing with the property division during a separation, there are multiple factors that contribute towards the final decision. Beginning with the contributions made by each party to the marriage, the court considers both the financial as well as non-financial contributions. The financial contributions are easy to calculate, as it includes the property and money bought into the marriage, the incomes earned during the marriage, and several other profits made during this period.
On the other hand, non-financial contributions are difficult to evaluate as it includes the time and efforts made to keep the marriage intact, such as one’s devotion to housekeeping and parenting. Besides these, certain other factors like the length of the marriage, ages of the two, present health status, the financial status of any new relationship, ability to earn after the divorce, eligibility of pension or any other allowance, number of children and their possessions are also considered to reach to a final verdict.
Impact of Domestic Violence in Property Settlements
If the Court is convinced of Domestic Violence in the marriage, it is likely to consider it while determining the settlement ratio or amount. But to what extent can it affect the decision cannot be determined. There can be various aspects that are taken into consideration before some adjustments are made in favor of the victim of the Domestic Violence.
- Level of Violence Involved: Domestic violence may cause both physical and psychological injury that may be short term or long lasting. The affected party may suffer some serious trauma due to the abuse. The Court takes these into account to justify the victim for their present as well as future needs. The settlement may include the cost of treatments involved or the rehabilitation needed in case of serious trauma.
- If it affects the ability to earn: If someone has encountered some major injury or post-traumatic disorders which hinders their future ability to work and earn, the settlement is more likely to consider it to suffice the future damage caused. Even if it affects you indirectly, there are chances that the court might change the settlement terms.
- Evidence and proofs available: Just like any other case, the law demands evidence. The availability of legitimate proofs ensuring the existence of Domestic Violence and the seriousness of the claims made can be a deciding factor. The claims made without any deposition are as useless as none. It is suggested to keep track of your medical and other relevant records draw the settlement in your favor.
- Efforts made to keep the marriage intact despite any abuse: There may be a certain scenario when the victim tried to deal with the domestic abuse just for the sake of the family and the marriage. This may also affect when dividing the property between the two.
Making the Claim:
As a victim of Domestic Violence, make sure that you are safe and supported by your family and loved ones. Once you are ready to make the claims, analyze your side of the case by consulting any trustworthy family lawyer. Although it may seem very obvious to you, proving your claims isn’t that easy. Put forward all the details from the very beginning act of violence until the point you decided to move out of the relationship. Each and every minute detail may lead to a judgment turning point. Make sure you have enough evidence to prove those claims that you are going to make. Once you are ready, file the Property Settlement Application.
If you consult an experienced family lawyer in Sydney or somewhere around, they will quote several cases with varied results, where the final judgment is the matter of arguments and evidence provided during the case. The laws regarding this delicate subject are still unclear in different perspectives. The Court is still going through a reformation while considering domestic violence as a deciding factor for property settlements. It is advisable to consider a well-reputed lawyer with experience in Family Laws to help you during this highly stressful situation.
Mahsa Curci is Senior Associate at Pavuk Legal, an Internationally Focussed team of lawyers with diverse ethnicity and experience. She is a solicitor with experience in different areas of law, most commonly Litigation, Banking and Finance, wills and estates, Employment, Family Law and Immigration. www.pavuklegal.com