What is the impact of family violence orders on legal proceedings in the Family Court?

16/07/2014

The existence of a family violence order may be significant in proceedings before the Family Court, particularly where the Court is being asked to make a parenting order related to children spending time with each parent (formerly called a contact order).

It is important that a parenting order does not expose anyone to family violence.

Recent amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) were intended to clarify the relationship between orders made under the Family Law Act 1975 requiring a child to spend time with a person, and family violence orders made under the law of a state or territory to protect a person from family violence.

Following recent legislative changes, where a Court exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975 makes an order providing for a child to spend time with a person and this order is inconsistent with an existing family violence order, the Court is now obliged to explain to the parties affected (or arrange for someone else to explain to them), the effect and consequences of the order and how the parties are to comply with the order.

In addition, as a result of recent legislative amendments, when an application for a family violence order is made in a state or territory court, that court now has the jurisdiction to amend an existing family law order providing for a child to spend time with a person, if this is necessary to give effect to the family violence order. This ensures that people are protected where a family law order may expose them to violence or risk of violence.

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