Does family violence influence property settlement?

Ordinarily, marital conduct does not influence financial settlement. For example, if a husband is unfaithful to his wife, this has no bearing on the amount a court may award the husband in respect of his contribution to the marital property.

However, in some instances, family violence can impact upon the courts assessment of contributions.

The leading case is Kennon v Kennon (‘Kennon’), where it was said:

“…where there is a course of violent conduct by one party towards the other during the marriage which is demonstrated … to have made his or her contributions significantly more arduous than they ought to have been, that is a fact which a trial judge is entitled to take into account in assessing the parties’ respective contributions”

Simply put, where a party has been a victim of family violence their contribution to the property of the marriage will be assessed as greater than it would otherwise have been had the violence not occurred. Put another way, the contribution of a party may be assessed at say 50%, instead of 45%, because they are a victim of family violence and that violence made their contribution to the marriage more arduous.

It should be noted that it is relatively difficult, although not impossible, to prove a Kennon argument.