BY A FAMILY LAWYER

Introduction

Family Violence is a major aspect of legal and social issues. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of family violence, particularly where couples are going through a relationship breakdown and/or separation.

As Family Lawyers, we are too often having clients’ come through our doors who have been subjected to family violence.

One of the greatest issues around family violence is the impact it has on people.

As lawyers, in particular family lawyers, we are encouraged to listen and believe someone when they talk about their feelings and experiences they have had of family violence, as we do not know what or how severe the impact may be.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“the Courts”) also take Family Violence very seriously.

What is Family Violence?

There are various definitions of Family Violence as there is no single agreed definition.

For the purpose of family law, pursuant to section 4AB the Family Law Act 1975 (“the Act”), Family Violence is defined as ‘violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful’.

This definition is quite broad and can be read as though it only pertains to physical and/or sexual violence. However, Family Violence is more than that as defined below.

What are forms of Family Violence

Examples of Family Violence under the legislations include but not limited to:

(a) assault; or
(b) sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour; or
(c) stalking; or
(d) repeated derogatory taunts; or
(e) intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
(f) intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or
(g) unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; or
(h) unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support; or
(i) preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
(j) unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty. (Section 4AB(2) Family Law Act 1975)

It may also include spiritual and cultural abuse, for example, when a party is prevented from practicing their religious beliefs or is forced to practice a religion they do not hold themself to.

It is not uncommon where there is family violence, that there will be these forms of abuse. Perpetrators of Family Violence work on the idea of fear and intimidation. Overtime, if the family violence is not addressed, a party may increasingly become depressed, to the extent their self-esteem and worth deteriorates.

Essentially, Family Violence can be seen as an express intent to control someone through fear and intimidation. It is a deliberate pattern and not a pattern of behaviour.

It is very difficult for clients to disclose family violence. For a client who has experienced family violence, shame, low self-esteem and other impacts, it makes it difficult for the client to open up.

However at Cominos Family Lawyers, our Family Lawyers are well equipped to manage cases of family violence professionally and empathically.

About Us

Cominos Family Lawyers (CFL) was established in 2010. Since this time, we believe in a world where people divorce and separate with dignity, respect, and care.

It is our mission to deliver clear, timely and relatable advice for all our clients.  Trust. Integrity. Care.

Contact us, email info@cominoslawyers.com.au or call 02 8999 1800.

Disclaimer

Notwithstanding the above, if you are a victim of Family Violence, you should also seek professional counselling so that those professionals can help you deal with the impact/s that Family Violence has had on your health and wellbeing.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice.

CALL 000 if you are in danger.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, you can contact 1800RESPECT by:

(a) calling 1800 737 732

(b) chat online via their website https://www.1800respect.org.au/; or

(c) text 0458 737 732.