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Domestic violence claim: Australian man wins court case

A man from Bunbury in Western Australia has won a defamation claim against his estranged wife after she claimed on Facebook to have been a victim of domestic violence.

A court in the state capital of Perth ruled that she was unable to substantiate the claim and awarded the man, a teacher, AU $12,500 (£6645.43) in damages.

In a post on the social networking site, the women alleged that he and her spouse had separated after 18 years in which she had suffered “domestic violence and abuse” at his hands, adding that she was now trying to protect her children.

But she took down the post after receiving a letter from her husband’s lawyers.

Representing herself in the subsequent proceedings, the man’s wife claimed that she had not uploaded the disputed statements to Facebook, and that someone must have “accessed her computer remotely”, The Guardian reports. The screenshot offered in evidence had been faked, she alleged, also arguing in her defence that the post had been “substantially true” – ‘justified’ in legal terms.

Her husband denied abuse or violence.

In his ruling, Judge Michael Bowden said domestic violence was a crime that often occurred behind closed doors in the absence of witnesses. But the wife’s credibility had been undermined by her claims about the nature of the disputed post on Facebook, the Judge ruled, amongst other issues.

She had given evidence in ”a most unsatisfactory manner”, the Judge continued, “a manner that was not responsive to the question but designed to reinforce her evidence that she was subject to domestic violence and abuse.”

He could not accept her claims without “independent evidence or documents contemporaneously made with the events she now complains of.”

Photo of Bunbury by Bram Souffreau via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. PM says:

    I can absolutely assure you Marilyn that this case you refer to is only the tip of the iceberg as this agenda is used all the time. The shame and pity of it here in the UK is it is normally believed as true in the family courts, once it rears its ugly head then for sure the husband and father is guilty, and even if it were not true, then, as the saying goes: ” no smoke without fire eh?” and of course we had better not take the risk of dad seeing his kids just in case it is true, as you know “The interests of the child are paramount” and we can’t mess with that can we? (Goodbye kids) Happens more than you know Marilyn. It happened to me and I’m a dyed in the wool pacifist, never once raised as much as one finger to my ex, but were my protests and denials believed by the family court judge? you know the answer to that one… OF COURSE NOT! The case you refer to I presume took place not in the family courts, but in some high court or other, that obviously was to the husbands huge advantage, (as any case tried in the UK criminal courts, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty) So, because the husband took his case and his ex to the court of defamation, (as it were) the judge was obligated to apply the law and make the wife prove her accusations, that is a huge advantage in those particular courts. However, in the family courts its the balance of probabilities which is applied by the judge and holds sway and NOT “Proof”, now isn’t that a shame for me and many thousands of other innocent dads out there that have been shafted on a judges hunch that we are indeed guilty! So the logic of this story is: We fathers will get a better chance of being believed if we somehow manage to get to the High courts, criminal courts, or even magistrates courts, so why the hell don’t we move all family law cases there to them? Good bye kids!

  2. Stitchedup says:

    “(as any case tried in the UK criminal courts, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty)”

    Not so I’m afraid, if you find yourself in front of a suitably indoctrinated bench of magistrates or district judge not only are you guilty until proven innocent, you’re being tried for 17 or 18 offences not just one.

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