Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists have created many detailed articles answering the most common questions people have in relation to their rights and Australian Family Law.
Australian family law and the family law courts recognise the close connection between family breakdown and family violence, and the resultant impact this has on victims of family violence – both adults and children.
Often when we hear references to family violence, our minds instinctually think of ‘violence’ in the traditional sense and behaviours such as:
Australian family law legislation provides a wide interpretation and definition of the term ‘family violence’ and The Family Law Act and the family law courts recognise financial abuse (or economic abuse) as a form of family and domestic violence.
Financial abuse (or economic abuse) occurs when you are unreasonably denied financial autonomy that you would otherwise have had, and are denied any control over your personal and/or the relationship’s finances. In many cases, this type of abuse is subtle and not obvious, and can be difficult to recognise. Financial abuse can also manifest slowly over the course of a relationship – steadily ‘creeping up’ until it becomes ‘the new normal’.
Some common examples of financial abuse include (but are not limited to):
Financial abuse is often accompanied by other forms of family violence, such as verbal abuse (e.g. angry outbursts and threats of violence), as well as physical abuse. Experiencing financial abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, and the affected family members often aren’t aware of how to seek and access support.
Our accredited family law specialists are available to assist in matters involving family violence and financial abuse, along with all other facets of your family law matter. If you would like to speak to one of our family law specialists about any of your family law issues, please contact us on (03) 9804 7991 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free telephone consultation.
In the recent Family Court case of Anaya & Anaya  FCCA 1048, the principle in the long established case of Kowaliw and Kowaliw was re-affirmed that:
As a statement of general principle, I am firmly of the view that financial losses incurred by parties or either of them in the course of a marriage whether such losses result from a joint or several liability, should be shared by them (although not necessarily equally) except in the following circumstances:
In Anaya, the husband argued that investment funds (including an inheritance of $1,000,000) ‘lost’ by the wife should be ‘added back’ to the asset pool and treated as an advance on her property settlement. The wife argued that the losses were a matter to be taken into account generally and to have them ‘added back’ to the asset pool would likely result in hardship to her.
His Honour held that at the time the wife decided to enter into the high risk investment she was likely to have been depressed and angry at the husband about their separation but that her decision to do so was reckless and fell within the second category of Kowaliw. The wife’s awareness was exacerbated by the timing of her decisions – after Family Court proceedings had commenced and she had legal representation.
I often have clients ask me to seek redress for losses ‘caused’ by their former partner, for example, the reduced value of their share portfolio or investment in a now worthless time-share resort. For the majority, my answer is no, that these losses were incurred in the course of the marriage but for some however, the answer is ‘yes’, for example, money lost due to gambling.
It is important that each significant financial ‘win’ and ‘loss’ experienced during the marriage is objectively assessed in the context of its surrounding circumstances. An emotional assessment may be misguided and result in unrealistic expectations by the aggrieved client.
I am available to assist with this task – by offering an objective and realistic assessment of your client’s complex property settlements.
Please contact me on email@example.com or 9804 7991 if you would like to discuss your client’s situation.
Or have your client contact me to arrange a free initial 15 minute telephone consultation.