How can Violence impact a Family Law Property outcome ?
Family Violence can impact on what a party in family law property proceedings will obtain in two most common ways.
Firstly, if the violence has led to a future need such as a physical impact which restricts working capacity, the ongoing support needs of children exposed to the violence or in some other way which is verifiable in admissible evidence, then the Court can make a future needs adjustment under s75(2) of the Family Law Act.
Secondly, if the violence has made the making of contributions more difficult / arduous for the affected party then the Court can make an adjustment under the principles laid out in the case of Kennon. These are often referred to as the Kennon factors.
For example, if a husband in a relationship where there is a family business perpetrates violence on his wife (criteria 1 to be established) and the has a discernable impact upon her (criteria 2 to be established) and as a consequence her efforts in contributing to the family farm or business (for example) becomes more arduous as a result of that violence then the Court can take that into account in assessing her contributions. It would, for example, enable the wife to say that while the husband was working longer hours in the business, her lesser hours had the same impact on contributions as her hours were made more arduous because of the violence. She would not, in simple, terms be "marked down" because the husbands conduct of violence had caused that to occur. Additionally, if she left the family home by reason of the violence she could still argue that she should not be "marked down" so to speak because the violence at the hand of the husband had caused that occurrence. Each case, of course, will be different and the mere existence of violence in a relationship does not mean there is an adjustment as the violence must have had a material impact on the contributions of the wife.
If there are children of the relationship and there is some impact upon their care by reason of exposure to family violence, that additional burden or consequence of the violence is also potentially picked up as a future needs adjustment. So, for example, if the children need ongoing counselling or develop increased emotional needs, then the Court may make adjustment for those additional future needs arising from the violence. So too, if the care of the children was more arduous because of the violence during the relationship then the Court can make a Kennon adjustment.