Family violence and family law
How does the Family Court deal with issues around family violence?
If the court is going to make parenting orders that are in the best interests of children, the court must give priority to the need to protect children from experiencing or being exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. That does not mean it is the only factor the court considers, but it must give it greater emphasis than any other matter.
If you want the Family Court to know of your experiences or concerns about family violence or child abuse, you need to complete a form setting out the allegations of child abuse or family violence. The Court must respond to your case quickly and may consider appointing an Independent Children’s Lawyer or a Single Expert Witness to look into the allegations of family violence or child abuse.
Do I need to go to Family Dispute Resolution if there is a history or risk of family violence?
If you have experienced or are at risk of family violence, you may be exempt from having to attempt FDR before starting a case for parenting orders.
Similar exemptions also exist if you want to start a case for property orders.
What parenting orders might the Family Court make if there have been allegations of family violence?
If the other parent has engaged in family violence, some of the options that the Court may order in the best interests of the child are:
- The child spends no time with the other parent.
- The child spends time with the other parent under supervision.
- The child spends very limited time with the other parent.
- The child only spends time with the other parent in a public place.
- The other parent must undergo counselling for family violence or attend a parenting course.
If the Family Court makes any of these orders, it is likely that it will only be for a limited time.
The Family Court can also make personal injunctions to try and stop a person committing acts of family violence against you or your children.
What happens if I have a restraining order and the Family Court makes parenting orders?
You must tell the Family Court about any Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs) that involve you, your children or any person who is part of your Family Court case. The court has to take that into account when making parenting orders.
The parenting orders will usually override an FVRO if there are any differences between two orders. An application can later be made to change the terms of the FVRO to make it consistent with the Family Court parenting orders.
If you or your children are covered by an FVRO, you should get legal advice about how the parenting orders will impact on your situation.
What can I do if I 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.