Family & Domestic Violence

Family & Domestic Violence

Family violence can leave a lasting and devastating impact on the lives of many.

The existence of family violence will excuse a party to a parenting dispute from the requirement to attend compulsory Family Dispute Resolution in relation to children’s issues. It is also a factor that will be considered when the court makes a parenting order, with the welfare of the children being the paramount consideration in such decisions.

Violence in relationships

The Family Law Act 1975 contains provisions aimed specifically at protecting children and family members from violence and abuse. The definitions of ‘abuse’ and ‘family violence’ are broad and generally align with most state-based family violence legislation. These definitions are purposely wide to capture a range of circumstances including both physical and psychological forms of violence and abuse that create fear and anxiety for those exposed.

What is family violence?

Family violence is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member or property, that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or wellbeing. A child is exposed to family violence if he or she hears or experiences the effects of family violence.

Family violence includes actual or threatened assault or sexual assault, stalking, derogatory and intimidating remarks, intentional damage or destruction of property, intentionally hurting or killing an animal, unreasonable suppression of financial resources or support and preventing or depriving a family member of his or her cultural connections or freedom.

Children may be exposed to family violence when they overhear threats towards other family members, witness or hear an assault of another family member, give assistance and comfort to a family member after an assault, or witness the attendance of emergency officers (police, ambulance) to an incident resulting from family violence.

Domestic violence orders

A domestic violence order is a generic term used for an order made under a specific law to protect a person from family violence. Protection from all forms of domestic violence is available by way of a Protection Order through the Magistrates’ or local Court, or a Family Violence Order through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

We can assist you to apply for a domestic violence order to help protect you, your children, and/or other family members from domestic violence. If you are in immediate danger, we recommend that you contact the police for urgent assistance.

A domestic violence order places limitations or prohibitions on the alleged perpetrator of violence that are considered necessary to protect an applicant and his or her children. The order may restrain the person from assaulting, harassing, threatening, stalking or intimidating the other person and from accessing/attending his or her premises or place of work.

What if a domestic violence order is made against me?

The legal and practical implications of having a domestic violence order issued against you are significant. A domestic violence order can also impact your ability to communicate with or spend time with your children. We recommend you contact a lawyer immediately if you have been named as the respondent in an application. It is a criminal offence to breach the conditions of a domestic violence order with severe penalties applicable.

If you are in immediate danger or fear for your own, or your children’s safety, we urge you to seek immediate assistance through your local police.

Our family law team can assist you in applying for a protection order or responding to an order made against you. Vanessa Leishman has considerable experience representing clients in domestic and family violence matters including to a final hearing stage. Vanessa’s intricate knowledge of the dynamics of family violence and the impact this has on adults and children who have been exposed to it, means she is a strong advocate for her clients while also demonstrating compassion and empathy.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call (07) 3630 1649 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.