What is family violence? In the context of Family Law

By October 20, 2022 No Comments

Often people think that family violence is when one person is physically violent to another person that they are in a relationship with. Whilst this is family violence, there are a myriad of other situations that also constitute family violence. Section 4AB of the Family Law Act 1975 describes family violence as violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful.

Examples of behaviours that may constitute family violence can include:

  • Assault;
  • stalking;
  • repeated derogatory taunts;
  • intentionally destroying property;
  • harming someone’s pets; or
  • unlawfully depriving the family member of their liberty.

The definition of family violence can be found within the Family Law Act and was expanded to incorporate notions of coercion and control on 7 June 2012. Examples of this include:

  • Denying the family member financial autonomy;
  • Withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, and/or their child/ children; and
  • preventing the individual from keeping connections with their family, friends or culture.

In most cases the law requires people to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) first before applying to the Family Court for orders about children. However, if there has been family violence or a risk of family violence or abuse you may not have to attend a Family Dispute Resolution. An exemption can be applied for by completing a Family Dispute Resolution Exemption Form (Form NP1).

If you hold fears for your safety it might be appropriate for you to obtain a Family Violence Restraining Order. This can be done through an application at the Magistrates Court.

Safety at the Family Court:

The Family Court of Western Australia has practices and procedures in place to keep one safe during court proceedings. It can be arranged that separate interviews take place, as well as having separate waiting areas. One may also apply to attend the court using a telephone or video conference link. Separate entry and exit points can also be organised for when one is attending the Family Court building, as well as designated security.

Joss Legal recognises that family and domestic violence takes many shapes and forms. We are here to support you in any capacity possible. If you require any advice in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact our offices on (08) 6559 7480.