Family Violence

What is Family Violence?

Family violence is, unfortunately, a widespread issue in Australian society.

On the Attorney General Website, there is a clear statement from the Australian Government which states that family violence is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, it not only impacts society but has a significant financial cost to our community as a whole.
There are government budget measures in place for the 2017/2018 financial year that support better resourcing in community legal centres and the Family Court, amongst other things.
The Family Court also recognise the close connection between family breakdown and violence, and the destructive impact on both adult victims and children living with family violence.

Protecting family members, and particularly children, from the effects of family violence, is central to all determinations of what is in a child’s best interest.
The courts are also focussed on ensuring the safety of all people in the family law system, including when attending court.
Issues of family violence and child abuse have a prominent place in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and in particular, the part that deals with parenting matters.
In 2011, the definition of family violence in the Family Law Act was expanded to incorporate notions of coercion and control, which are not always accompanied by physical violence or threats.
At the same time, the definition of child abuse was revised to include serious psychological harm arising from the child being subjected to or exposed to family violence.
The Family Law Act contains a range of provisions designed to protect parties and children from family violence.

How is Family violence defined?

Family violence means violent, threatening, or other behaviour by a person that intimidates or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful.
A child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence.

The Family Law Act provides a list of examples which include (but are not limited) to:

  • an assault or sexual assault
  • repeated derogatory taunts
  • intentionally damaging or destroying property
  • unreasonably denying the family member the financial freedom that he or she would otherwise have had; or
  • unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet reasonable living expenses
  • preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with their family, friends, or culture

Common forms of violence in families include:

  • violence among adult partners and ex-partners
  • abuse/neglect of children by an adult
  • violence perpetrated by a child against their parent, and
  • violence between siblings.

What is the effect of family violence on Family court proceedings?

Family violence can affect not only a person’s safety but also:

  • their readiness to act in a family law matter;
  • their willingness to come to the courts and participate in court events; and
  • their ability to achieve settlement of their dispute through negotiation.

What is important to remember is that Family violence can be perpetrated by a male, female, or child.
In an emergency, or if someone is in immediate danger, then your first call should be to the Western Australia Police Force on 000.
For legal advice from a respected and experienced Family Lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 08 9443 1111 or by email at dfl@dfl.com.au.

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