Divorce is always a highly emotional, stressful and difficult time period in one’s life. However, they can become even more complex where there are allegations of domestic and family violence or child abuse.
Violent partners often escalate abuse when victims try to escape from the unfortunate circumstances of their relationship, which makes it vitally important that one is aware of the resources and support available for victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
The current legislative definition is contained in s4AB of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) which states that any ‘violent, threatening or other behaviour of a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful’. This definition is broad and far-reaching and the legislation goes on to list a number of examples which constitute family violence and child exposure to this violence.
It has been made abundantly clear that such action of one party on another or towards a child of the parties is unacceptable and victims have the right to protection. Domestic Violence in Australia has been proven to be more widespread than commonly perceived.
In order to protect victims of abuse there are a number of available protections and options in place. It is a requirement of parenting proceedings that parties attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to the hearing, however in order to protect victims, that requirement will be waived where there has been child abuse, domestic violence or family violence.
Further legal protections include Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s) which are another way in which a victim can be protected. Certain provisions prohibit assaulting, harassing, molesting, threatening or otherwise interfering with the protected person, intimidation of the protected person and further stalking of that person are usually included in these orders.
It is clear the legislation has been consistently changing to better the protection of victims. In June 2012, for example, significant amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 were introduced to widen the definitions of family violence and abuse, clarify that priority is to be afforded to protection from harm over meaningful relationships, broaden the obligations of advisers and courts with relation to family violence and abuse and repealing of provisions which may discourage disclosure of violence and safety concerns. In the present year saw further changes including new notice of risk forms, which aim to better ensure any evidence or allegation of violence, are bought to light.
We here at LBC Lawyers understand the emotional turmoil one would be under where you and your children are subject to a violent environment. It may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel but we here at LBC Lawyers are here to help you through this period of your life.
If you are suffering any form of domestic or family violence and you need help contact 1800RESPECT where you will be offered confidential information, counselling and support.