How can “family and domestic violence” influence my court case?
When we talk about “family and domestic violence” in court, we must first look at the reality of Australians who experience this, before it gets there.
Five alarming statistics might come to mind. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in April 2018:
- In Australia, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 16 men report experiencing intimate partner violence from the age of 15.
- In Australia, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 16 men report experiencing emotional abuse by a current or previous partner.
- Even more shockingly, 1 woman is killed by their partners (current or ex) every week and 1 man per month.
- For women between 25-40 intimate partner violence results in more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor.
- In 2014–15 following being assaulted by a spouse or partner 2,800 women and 560 men were hospitalised.
These are uncomfortable facts that can be hard to understand by themselves. When we think of family, we think about things like safety, love and nurturing. But the circumstances that lead to violence in the home are many, varied and often complex.
The laws relating to family and domestic violence vary across Australia, but the basic principles at the heart of this issue, are apply everywhere in some way, shape or form.
What is family and domestic violence?
For more detail, read our entry on “what you need to know about family violence?” In essence though, “family and domestic violence”:
- is not just violence between partners,
- includes violence towards children, and other caregivers,
- is not just about physical violence,
- includes patterns of behaviour that cause another party to be in fear of the other, including psychological, economic and social-forms of violence.
What legal protections do I have from family and domestic violence?
Measures to stop any violence within the family unit has its own category. In civil matters there are four form as of protections readily available they are:
- Thanks to recent legislative reforms, people experiencing family violence can more easily apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO): FVRO’s put a physical stop to ongoing acts of abuse within a family unit;
- Conduct Agreements: Conduct Agreements have the same effect as a Family Violence Restraining Order but are entered into by agreement;
- Undertakings by Agreement: Undertakings effectively promise the victim of violence that the complained of behaviour will stop; and
- Family Court Injunctions: Injunctions stop and prevent specific conduct and behaviours.
Family Violence and the existence of a Family Violence Restraining Order also have ramifications in Family Court proceedings in both child and property related proceedings.
Clearly identifying the form of violence and the impact it has had on you and/or your family is very important in these circumstances. This assists us to identify the best form of protection – physically, psychologically and financially – for you and your family.
What effect does family and domestic violence have on my rights to be with my children?
Family and domestic violence is an important, but not the only consideration, for a court when determining “the best interests of a child.” Hence, it’s incredibly important that the violence and abuse your family is, or has been, exposed to is:
- clearly identified; and
- given the attention and weight that is needed to put a stop to the vicious cycle.
We know that dealing with the topic of violence and abuse is one of the most difficult things in one’s life. It often requires exposing yourself, and your family, to issues which you have long buried. Usually in the hope that the violence will stop and that your family will see better days. Our insight and appreciation for the challenging road ahead allows us to support you in every-way we can.
Being aware of these basic principles can have serious implications for you and your family. By better understanding what “family violence” is, you are more likely to be able seek help of a family lawyer at the earliest possible stage.
We know that most people go online as a first point of contact but if you are experiencing family violence we urge you to pick up the phone to speak to us – there is no substitute to speaking to family lawyers who understand and care.
Call us now on (08) 9381 0208 or fill out this form to schedule your first 30-min free appointment.
You can read more about Australia’s family and domestic violence statistics at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.