What is Domestic Violence?
Under the Family Law Act, domestic violence is known as ‘family violence’ and is defined as a behaviour that coerces or controls a family member or causes them to be fearful.
Examples of this behaviour can include:
- Physical and sexual assaults;
- Internationally damaging or destroying property;
- Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal;
- Unreasonably denying financial autonomy/withholding financial support to a dependant;
- Preventing a family member from a connection with friends, family or culture;
- Deprivation of liberty (for example, by locking someone inside);
It is important to note that exposing a child to family abuse is regarded as child abuse.
What effect will this have on my family law matter?
The presence of violence in a marriage is relevant to the divorce process where the care of children is involved. When applying for a divorce, you will be required to demonstrate to the Court that you have made plans for the care of the children. If you have concerns for the safety of your children then you can address this at this stage.
Family violence is only relevant to a property dispute if you can demonstrate to the Court that the violence you faced had a negative impact on your ability to contribute, whether financially or non-financially, to the relationship.
If you have a parenting dispute with your former partner, then you may choose to avoid the (otherwise compulsory) mediation session that is required before you apply to Court for orders. Some people who have experienced family violence do wish to attempt to mediate, however. In this case, we can put measures in place to ensure a just outcome, such as by conducting a ‘shuttle’ mediation, where the parties are in separate rooms and the mediator goes between the rooms.
Family violence will also factor in to the safety considerations regarding the care of the children. When a Court is making a decision about the children, the Court must take the best interests of the child as a paramount consideration. The Family Law Act ensures that the Court will prioritise the safety of the children first, when determining what is in their best interests, and therefore when making decisions.
Why should I choose Sydney Divorce Lawyers
At Sydney Divorce Lawyers we understand that the breakdown of a relationship is often the most dangerous time for partners to an abusive spouse, and will do everything we can to ensure your safety and look after your interests in this period. We are experienced in cases in which family violence is present, and are aware of the major effects that this has on a family law matter. We deal with these issues with sensitivity and compassion, and will always put your safety first, while providing you with strong legal representation.