No Fault Divorce

There has been much discussion in the media recently on the hotly contested topic of infidelity due to the information leaked onto the internet by hackers from the Ashley Madison databases.

You may be wondering what effect such information may have in Family Law divorce or property settlement proceedings in the event of breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship.

In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 established the principle of “no-fault” divorce. Therefore if, for example, one party is at fault for the breakdown of a marriage on account of their infidelity, this will not have any bearing as to whether or not the Court will grant an Order for divorce.

Generally, the revelation that one party has been unfaithful will be irrelevant in property settlement proceedings. However, the Court may take that factor into account in assessing each party’s contributions during the relationship, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if there was evidence that the cheating spouse wasted considerable assets of the parties for the benefit of the other person, then that could be taken into account if the expenditure was such that it significantly reduced the matrimonial asset pool that may otherwise have been available for distribution, to the detriment of the other spouse.

The situation could be further complicated if the affair(s) were ongoing such that the mistress/es could assert that a de facto relationship existed. If the Court finds that the cheating spouse and the mistress/es were in a de facto relationship, then the mistress/es could claim an entitlement to the assets of the parties. For more information on De Facto relationships please visit our “De Facto” information page.

If you would like further advice on this topic or any other Family Law issue, please contact Edwards Family Lawyers for a consultation.

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