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Chair of business against domestic violence welcomes Family Court decision to award damages to domestic violence victim

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Business Against Domestic Violence


Paula Gerber, co-chair o f the new Business Against Domestic Violence initiative and a partner in the law firm Maddock Lonie and Chisholm, has welcomed a recent Family Court decision which acknowledged that a history o f domestic violence could be relevant to the distribution o f marital property.

“This is an historic decision which recognises the pain and psychological damage inflicted upon victims o f domestic violence,” Ms Gerber said.

She applauded the Court for taking an approach which reflected the reality of abusive relationships, stating that “many women in violent relationships have their earning capacities restricted by violent spouses who refuse to allow them to take jobs outside the home. Others are forced to miss days from work due to injuries caused by violent partners.”

Ms Gerber claimed that while the physical and psychological damage caused by domestic violence is now gaining recognition, fewer people acknowledge the economic consequences for individual victims. Ms Gerber said that “this land mark decision makes it clear that those who suffer domestic violence at the hands o f their spouse are entitled to be compensated.”

Ms Gerber’s comments relate to a decision by the Full Court in Sydney which held that domestic violence was an issue which could be looked at by the Court in assessing contributions to the property o f the marriage. In this case a wealthy businessman was ordered to pay his wife $43,000 in damages and $700,000 as a property settlement, after a finding that he had been violent towards his wife throughout their relationship.

The property settlement component was increased on appeal from $400,000 with the Court recognising that a history o f domestic violence is relevant when assessing the contributions made by each party to the marital property.

For further information contact Ms Gerber on (03) 9288 0635.

14 January 1998