The number of ways in which people in relationships and marriages can breakup is endless. Believe me, in our line of work we have seen countless ways for the relationship to end.
In this situation our client, the wife in this scenario has had her husband leave her for another man.
Often in these cases the client is extremely upset and feels betrayed. They are particularly interested to know whether or not this is taken into account in respect of their Family Law entitlements.
What happens with property?
In respect of property settlement, the Family Law Act 1975 sets out that it is a no fault jurisdiction. This means that the person who was responsible for the breakdown of the relationship is not relevant to the assessment of the parties' entitlements to property. You may have seen our earlier blog about the five step process for assessing parties' entitlements to property settlement.
The five steps are:
- Assessing the property pool.
- Determining whether it is just and equitable to make an order.
- Assessing the parties' contributions.
- Assessing the parties' needs factors.
- Determining whether the terms of the order is just and equitable.
The husband walking out of the marriage and breaking up the family, whilst in many peoples' view would be morally wrong, is not a factor that is relevant to any of the above considerations. It will therefore have no effect on the assessment of entitlements and division of property.
What happens with the children?
In respect of children, as we have highlighted in our blog "How does a court work out who my child lives with", the best interests of the child is the most important consideration under theFamily Law Act. There is a number of considerations that are taken into account when determining the best interests of the child. The fact of one party ending the relationship is not relevant to the best interests of the child.
There may however be other consequential matters which are relevant, such as if the husband was exposing the child to inappropriate behaviour with his new partner, introducing the child to countless new partners and causing the child confusion and stress and other such matters. The husband's conduct therefore can be relevant to assessing the best interests of the child.
You will note however that the focus is solely on the child and not the hurt of the other parent. This can often be difficult to accept, particularly where one of the parties has acted in a very inappropriate way in causing the separation.