Generally, divorce proceedings in each Australian state follow a specific formula and set of processes to ensure justice to both parties. However, when a divorce case involves allegations and convictions of domestic violence, those processes are altered slightly in order to protect the victims and children involves. Here are 3 specific ways domestic violence can change divorce proceedings.
How Domestic Violence Changes Parental Responsibility
If you and your ex-partner have children together, part of your divorce will involve determining who takes parental responsibility for those children. Parental responsibility involves making decisions on major issues that will affect your child's life in the long term, including religious rites, healthcare decisions, and school choices. Typically, the court presumes that both parents will be share this parental responsibility equally. However, in the case of domestic violence, this presumption does not apply. Instead, if the victim of violence would prefer to take full parental responsibility, there is a greater chance that the courts will award them this power. Of course, the determination of parental responsibility will ultimately reflect the children's best interests.
How Domestic Violence Changes the Mediation Requirement
The Australian legal system believes that it's always best to avoid court cases where possible. As a result, divorcing couples are usually required to attend mediation sessions to solve disputes such as parental responsibility. During a mediation session, a trained mediator works with the couple at hand to come to agreements outside of the courtroom. Of course, this can be a problem when one or both parties have suffered violence at the hands of the other. In this case, mediation can cause psychological distress or risk for further harm. As a result, if there's domestic violence in a couple's history, the requirement to mediate is waived by the court.
How Domestic Violence Changes Property Disputes
The process of determining property settlement is based on four factors: the net asset pool, each person's future needs, the justice of the result, and what each person contributed to the relationship. With regard to the last factor—each party's contribution—the court will usually look at financial contributions and non-financial contributions, such as parenting and homemaking. When domestic violence is involved, the court weighs these contributions differently. The contributions of the person who faced domestic violence will be considered more valuable because they were made under very difficult circumstances. This generally gives the victim a more favourable outcome in the end settlement.
For more information, contact a domestic violence lawyer.