Family violence and family law

The Family Court takes protecting people and children from harm, abuse, neglect and family violence very seriously. The court will take the history and risk of family violence into account when dealing with your case.

This information will help you to understand how family violence is treated in family law cases. Find out:

  • how the Family Court deals with family violence and the safety of children
  • what orders the Family Court can make, and
  • what you can do if you are worried about your safety at the Family Court.
Quick Answers Video: Family violence and family law
video fact sheet icon Download the fact sheet for this video

Do I have to go to Family Dispute Resolution if I have experienced family violence or there is a risk of family violence?

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 abuse or a risk of family violence or abuse you do not have to attend FDR. You can ask for an exemption by completing a Family Dispute Resolution Exemption Form (Form NP1)

For more information see, FDR exemptions

How does the Family Court make decisions about children?

When the Family Court makes a decision about a child or children, it must make orders which are in the best interests of the child. When making a decision about what orders are in a child's best interests, the court must give priority to protecting children from experiencing or being exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. 

How much information should I give the Family Court about family violence and abuse? 

Provide as much information as you can to the Family Court about what has happened to you and your children and any concerns you have about family violence and abuse. You can tell the court about what has happened and your concerns in the paperwork you complete for court. In most cases you will also talk to a Family Consultant about family violence and abuse at the start of your court case. 

In some cases the Family Court may decide to appoint an Independent Children's Lawyer. For more information see, Independent Children's Lawyers

What parenting orders might the Family Court make if there are allegations of family violence or abuse?

In cases where there are allegations of family violence or abuse, the court may decide it is in the best interests of the child to:

  • not spend any time with the parent, or
  • spend supervised time with the parent - the court may make orders that the time needs to be supervised by a professional supervision agency or by a third party such as a grandparent or other family member, or
  • spend some time with the parent with other protective measures put in place - such as handovers taking place in a public place. 

If a parent has used family violence the Family Court may make an order requiring them to complete a family violence program or counselling. 

What other orders can the Family Court make to help keep me safe? 

The Family Court can make a Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVRO) against another party in the case (or any person who gives evidence during the court case). The Family Court can only make a FVRO if there is already a current court case about orders for children. For information about applying for a FVRO if you don't already have a current case in the Family Court see, Family Violence Restraining Orders

The Family Court can also make personal protection injunctions to restrain another person from doing certain things. The Family Court can make injunctions for the protection of a child, a parent or someone else involved in the child's life. 

Do I need to tell the Family Court if there is a family violence order?

You need to tell the Family Court about any Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) or Conduct Agreement Order (CAO) that involves you, your child or any person who is part of your Family Court case. The court will take this into account when making a decision about what orders are in the best interests of your child.

If you or your child are protected by a FVRO or CAO you should get legal advice about how parenting orders will impact on your situation. 

What can I do if am worried about my safety at the Family Court? 

The Family Court in Perth has processes to help keep you safe when you come to court.

They can arrange for separate interviews and waiting areas, as well allowing you to appear in court using telephone or video conferencing. Separate entry and exit points can also be organised for when you are at the Family Court building. It may be a good idea to travel to and from court with friends or family.

It is important that you tell the court if you are worried about your safety. Call your Case Coordinator or the Family Court’s Call Centre on (08) 9224 8222 or 1800 199 228.

 

Reviewed: 3 March 2022 

When Separating

Videos, information, resources and referrals for couples and families going through separation or divorce.

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.