What does the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-Examination of Parties) Bill 2018 mean for me?
Are you currently thinking about separation or divorce from your partner? And was family violence an issue in any aspect of your previous relationship? On top of that, are you or the other party in your matter, are representing yourselves?
If any of these apply to your situation, then the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties) Bill 2018 could impact you.
What’s the gist of it of it?
In essence, this Bill amends the Family Law Act 1975, to limit a party’s ability to personally cross-examine another party in any family court proceedings – children or property – if the other person is involved in some allegation of family violence.
Additionally, this new rule will apply to both victims and perpetrators of family violence alike.
In what circumstances does this rule apply?
One purpose of this amendment is to reduce the traumatic impact of already taxing family court litigation. This is because it is difficult to address family violence in court, with a lawyer, let alone without one.
However, the Family Court will be directed to apply this rule in specific circumstances. These include the following:
- criminal convictions for offences involving violence;
- a final Family Violence Restraining Order (“FVRO”) is in place; or
- any other circumstances they consider to be appropriate.
What if I can’t afford a lawyer to represent me?
Given the obvious issues this presents for self-represented litigants, the Commonwealth will be allocating funding to State Legal Aid commissions (such as Legal Aid WA). Therefore, the Commonwealth will give each legal aid commission the power to administer a separate fund that offers legal assistance to parties in these types of proceedings. Even so, we still highly recommend that anyone considering litigation – self-represented or otherwise – seek advice from an experienced family lawyer first.