Recent amendments to the Family Law Act have demonstrated the significance that the Court places on family violence perpetrated by a parent or any other person towards or in the presence of a child or a child’s parent.
The Family Law Act provides for an extended definition of family violence to include any violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family or causes the family member to be fearful. Specific examples of family violence in the legislation include, but are not limited to:
- An assault;
- Sexual assault;
- Repeated derogatory taunts;
- Unreasonably denying the family member financial autonomy and/or unreasonably withholding financial support to a family member or his or her child;
- Preventing a family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
- A child overhearing threats of death or personal injury or seeing or hearing an assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family
The Court recognises the impact of family violence on children and parents and, in ordinary circumstances, will not make Orders for a child to spend time with or communicate with a parent or any other person if doing so will expose the child to an unacceptable risk of harm.
Family violence has the potential to have a significant impact on the nature and type of parenting Orders that may be made by the Court, including orders that require a child’s time with their parent to be supervised, or for a parent to undergo drug and alcohol testing before spending time with their children.
As with all matters before the Court, it is essential that allegations of family violence are supported by evidence. Where allegations of family violence are made, the matter invariably becomes more complex and is likely to require the assistance of a specialist family lawyer.
If you have experienced family violence during the course of your relationship or in the period post separation, or you are a parent alleged to have committed acts of family violence, you should contact us immediately to discuss the best way to prepare and manage your parenting dispute.