A R Walmsley Solicitors Sydney



The general principle is that the Family Court is not concerned with why a relationship broke down. It is only concerned with the fact that it has broken down. Often, bad behaviour in a marriage is regarded as an unimportant consideration.

However, bad behaviour may be of great concern to the Court if it impacts on the welfare of children.

Is there ever any case when bad behaviour can impact on the division of property? This is a very difficult question and there is no simple answer.

Michael and Maree had been married for ten years. There were three children aged 9, 7 and 4. Maree was the primary carer for the children. Michael was the primary financial provider.

Michael was a successful businessman. He worked extremely long hours. Part of Michael's business involved him in socialising with clients and spending leisure hours away from the home.

Michael developed a dependency upon alcohol. As the years went by the drinking habit made Michael very cranky. This was never seen by his clients. But, when he was at home he was abusive to Maree. This abuse became gradually worse. Finally, it developed into physical violence.

Michael promised Maree that he would never hit her again. She remained in the relationship.

However, after ten years enough was enough. The marriage broke down. There was substantial property to be divided between Michael and Maree. The matter had to go to Court. Maree set out the history of violence and abuse that had been directed to her.

The Court made a decision that Maree had, in fact, been the primary homemaker and parent of the children under very difficult circumstances. She had shielded the children from the abuse of Michael. The significant role of homemaker and parent had been made very difficult for Maree by Michael's behaviour.

The Court was interested in this argument. One of the reasons for the considerable adjustment of property in favour of Maree was that her role as homemaker and parent had been made far more difficult and onerous by the bad behaviour of Michael. It was not just unacceptable or hurtful behaviour. It was damaging behaviour and burdensome behaviour. Maree's Lawyers were right in putting these issues before the Court. An experienced Family Lawyer will know when to put an issue before the Court and when to refrain from putting irrelevant material before the Court.

Ph: (02) 4577 0100  |  Fax: (02) 4577 4688  |  Email: Click Here  |  Disclaimer: Click here  |  Privacy policy: Click Here  |  Copyright A R Walmsley & Co 2008