The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) has extensive provisions regarding family violence and abuse. The Act recognises that family violence can take many forms, including physical, verbal, psychological and financial conduct by one party towards the other.
When making a parenting Order, the Court is required to make an Order which is in the best interests of the child, or children. The Court is directed to consider both primary and additional considerations, including the benefit to a child of a meaningful relationship with a parent and the need to protect a child from actual or threatened family violence or abuse.
The Family Law Act not only provides an extensive definition of what constitutes family violence and abuse, but also directs the Court, when considering the best interests of a child and where family violence or abuse is alleged, to give greater weight to the need to protect a child from physical or psychological harm, or from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.
The Court must carefully consider allegations of family violence and abuse, as well as any family violence Order made. Often where there are allegations or instances of domestic violence, an application can be made for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) in a state based Court which can put in place conditions upon a party, including restraints on approaching a party or child, restricting attendance at certain locations or imposing additional conditions.
Whether a person has been subjected to family violence, or is the subject of allegations of family violence, it is important to obtain legal advice.