Family violence is a serious social issue that affects everyone in a family – children, parents and other members of the extended family. Family violence can occur before, during and after separation and it may affect the ability of people to make choices about their family law matter and to take part in Court events.
Anyone who feels an imminent threat of domestic or family violence should contact the police.
The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court treat violence seriously. Family violence orders, AVO’s or other criminal incidences of violence must be made known to the Court in a family law matter. The purpose alerting the Courts to abuse is to allow an assessment of risk when placing a child with a potentially violent parent.
To achieve this, any stakeholder can file a Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk of Family Violence.
When the Court is made aware it can adjust its process to protect the victims or sufferers of abuse. Without notice, children (and the co-parent for that matter) could be placed at an unnecessary risk when the Court decides on interim or final spend time with, live with or change over arrangements for children.
As is well established, the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration of the Family Courts in parenting matters.
Once aware of potential risk of family violence, the Court can exercise its discretion not to make a parenting order. It might instead, choose to order an investigation or a report from a state welfare authority which could assist the Court’s decision at a final hearing. During this time, the Court will endeavour to make an interim order to protect the children and others.
Once a final parenting order is put in place, this will override (replace) a family violence order made by a local Magistrates Court if the two orders contradict each other.