Claiming compensation from a relationship breakdown
Compensation and damages claims are usually the domain of workplace or motor vehicle personal injuries, but sometimes they can enter the world of a divorce property settlement. It is rare and it usually requires extenuating circumstances. Here’s a recent example…
Recently, the court considered an unusual case where the wife was claiming damages from her husband after a “breach of her confidence”. This was in addition to the usual property settlement between the two of them.
The marriage came to an end when the wife discovered the husband had posted illicit photographs and videos of her on a number of websites without her consent.
The wife was “deeply upset” and “utterly horrified” by what had taken place, and her ex-husband was eventually convicted and sentenced to nine months imprisonment for this crime.
After these events, the wife asked the court to consider granting her additional damages from the husband for the distress and embarrassment caused by his breach of her confidence.
There was some legal precedent for the wife to obtain damages in these circumstances, and the court found the husband had published the material without the wife’s consent.
Some of the images were even obtained without her knowledge, and the wife gave evidence of the effect this had on her mental health, as well as the ongoing treatment she was receiving in the wake of these events.
The court found that the husband had not released the material with the intent of humiliating or upsetting the wife, and he was not motivated by revenge or malice. However, the judge found the behaviour was an enormous breach of the wife’s trust and the court awarded the wife compensation of $70,000.
In addition to the compensation of $70,000, the court also considered the circumstances of the photographs when determining the overall property settlement.
The court weighed up the wife’s mental health concerns as a “significant future needs factor” and awarded the wife 60 per cent of the overall asset pool in the final property settlement.
It is rare for a family law case to consider compensation or damages claims but the extreme facts in this case and the criminal element, put it in a separate category.
If you need expert family law advice about your situation, please contact our office on: (07) 3221 4300 or email: [email protected] to make an appointment with one of our family law specialists.