Family Violence – Your Legal Rights

We can all work on ensuring that the spread of family violence does not provide a sage sequel to the spread of Coronavirus.

The Government has recently announced initiatives to increase supports to victims and perpetrators alike.

What are your legal rights if you are a victim of family and domestic violence? What might be possible for you as a perpetrator of family and domestic violence?

Firstly you must understand what family violence is and recognise the many forms it takes which include:

  • Intentionally damaging or destroying property;
  • Intentionally causing injury to an animal;
  • Unreasonably denying a family member financial autonomy;
  • Unreasonably withholding financial support;
  • Preventing a family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family or friends;
  • Unlawfully depriving a family member of his freedom;
  • Stalking;
  • Repeated derogative taunts;
  • An assault;
  • Sexually abusive behaviour.

Each state has its own laws providing for the obtaining and extension of orders made for the personal protection of victims of violence, including children.  Courts exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act also have powers to make orders for the personal protection of victims and their children.

The powers vested in the Commonwealth and the states can enable orders to be made which:

  • Remove a person from a place of residence;
  • Restrict a person’s movement (ie, from entering in or near a designated address or area);
  • Prevent a person from communicating with a named victim.

These orders can be made:

  • Ex-parte (ie, in the absence of a party);
  • By consent, including without admissions being made;
  • After a defended hearing.

The facts and circumstances that are required to be established to secure the making of an order are not nebulous.  Cogent evidence, even on an ex-parte basis, is required.

Whilst our justice system heaves into a new “normal” access to that justice system for victims of family violence becomes more vexed than ever.  This will equally be true for alleged perpetrators of family violence.

Five practical tips that can help you include:

  1. Call the police if you are fearful for your safety;
  2. Engage with all the online and telephone supports currently available including MensLine Australia and 1800RESPECT ;
  3. Do what you can to stay visible and connected – even if it is online;
  4. Devise a safety plan that is able to be put into action swiftly; and
  5. Take the time now to research the available legal assistance that you may need.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.  There is help available if you are the victim of domestic violence and equally assistance for those that are perpetrators of family and domestic violence.

Stay safe and share this if you think it may help another.

Also read: family violence lawyers Sydney

Lisa Wagner is an Accredited Family Law Specialist on Sydney’s North Shore specialising in complex property matters and children’s work.  If you have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or to discuss your matter in complete confidence. We have a team of experienced and caring professional family lawyers available to help you in this difficult time.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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