I may sound cynical, but I have often seen allegations of domestic violence made in the Family Court for tactical advantage, or even worse for the sake of mudslinging. I do not for a moment want to diminish the suffering of true victims of domestic violence including any children who may witness that behaviour. The effects on children can be devastating and lifelong. But the reasons why people report (or refuse to report) domestic violence are complex.
In parenting cases, domestic violence that is witnessed by children has often been seen as a very strong indicator of a parent’s lack of self control. However, in the recent decision in the case of Biss Justice O’Reily found that despite a history of violence by the father up until separation, the Court found that there was no ongoing unacceptable risk to any of the children and ordered equal shared parental responsibility and equal time.
This case shows the importance of how evidence is prepared and presented to the Court in influencing how final parenting orders may be determined.
In relation to property settlements, the Family Court has for quiet some time recognised that domestic violence is a factor that could have a direct impact upon one party’s ability to pursue a career and advance themselves financially. In those cases, the evidence needed to be prepared in such a way as to show how the violence led to the victim not being able to pursue opportunities . See the case of Kennon. In a more recent decision in the case of Fair Child in which the Court found that the wife’s contributions made during the relationship were more heavily weighted than those made by the husband because her contributions “were made more arduous because of the husband’s ongoing violence and that there should be an adjustment in the wife’s favour of 7.5%.”
If you are in need of family law advice and the relationship involves domestic violence it is important that you seek assistance from a lawyer who is familiar with the way the Court deals with these issues and the evidence which is required. Our team of family lawyers are familiar with the latest developments in the law and are able to meet you for a confidential discussion about your situation without any costs or obligation.