Do I have to tell the Court about family violence?
Yes. You must tell the Court of any relevant family violence orders and file a copy of any family violence orders as they may affect the Court orders, particularly orders about a child spending time with a parent or other person. The Court must make sure that orders do not expose people to family violence.
When the Court knows about a family violence order, it can make parenting orders that take the order into account. For example, it can arrange for an independent person to be present during hand-over times or order that the time the child spends with a parent or other person takes place at a children's contact centre.
Can I bring a support person or friend to a conference or other court appointment?
If you are not legally represented, you may have a friend or support person attend a court conference or other court appointment with you. The extent of a support person's involvement in the conference/appointment will be at the discretion of the registrar or family consultant conducting the conference/appointment.
If you have a friend or support person with you, they may sit at the back of the courtroom. Children and young people under 18 are not permitted in the courtroom.
During a hearing, parties who are not legally represented may be allowed to have a support person sit with them. The extent of the support person's involvement in the hearing will be at the discretion of the judicial officer.
Is there somewhere I can contact to get advice on court processes and parenting orders when there have been instances of family violence?
The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) is a national telephone service that helps families affected by relationship or separation issues, provides information about the family law system, parenting arrangements after separation and advice on family separation issues. Calls to FRAL are confidential and you are able to receive help anonymously.
What if a family law order is made that is inconsistent with a family violence order?
The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court may make a parenting order or an injunction that is inconsistent with a state or territory order. For more information go to:
- S 68P of the Family Law Act 1975
- S 68Q of the Family Law Act 1975
It is important, if you have a family law parenting order that is inconsistent with a family violence order, that you obtain legal advice so you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. The Courts are unable to provide legal advice because to do so could seriously compromise the Court's ability to impartially determine a case. Further information is available on free services that may be able to assist you.
What is a child protection order?
Child protection orders are different to family violence orders. They are made by a state children's court when it is believed that a child is in need of protection. However, children can sometimes be included on family violence orders made for a parent.
I or someone I am close to is experiencing family violence. What can I do?
Please reach out to a support service or call the police if you feel you are in imminent danger. Some links to services can be found on the Department of Social Services website. Please note this link provides services to all people seeking support.
The Courts also have a family violence directory with links and contact details of support services in each state and territory.
Someone has disclosed family violence and may already have received help, but may need assistance with other services. Where else can they get help?
During difficult times, many people are faced with a complex mix of emotional and practical issues. The Family Relationships Advice Line may be able to assist you. They offer a national telephone service that helps families affected by family violence and other relationship issues. They can also provide counselling and referrals for all family members, including children. The advice line can also assist with referrals to other services that can provide help including Centrelink, Child Support or a legal service.
Anyone can call the advice line including parents, grandparents, children, young people, other family members or friends. People who may be offering advice or support to families can also ring the advice line to get information. Their services include:
- advice on family separation issues
- legal advice
- information about the impact of conflict on children
- telephone-based family dispute resolution
- referrals to Family Relationship Centres and other dispute resolution services, and
- referrals to a range of other services to help with family relationship and separation issues.
To contact the Family Relationship Advice Line, call 1800 050 321 or if you are overseas call +61 7 3423 6878. Calls to the advice line are confidential. Your family and friends will not be told that you have telephoned the advice line. If you are seeking legal advice you will be asked to provide your name and telephone number so a lawyer can call you back. You will be provided with a timeframe.
I have/am experiencing family violence and have an upcoming court case, where can I get support for my court event?
The Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS) is an integrated duty lawyer and social worker service available for families affected by family violence or abuse. This service is run by Legal Aid and is at no cost to users.
FASS may be able to help you with preparing documentation, organising service and help at court proceedings. You should contact FASS in your state or territory via Legal Aid. Go to the Legal Aid website for contact information.
If you seek the assistance of the FASS service when you are at court, you should proceed to their reception desk when you arrive at a family law registry. It may be helpful to contact them prior to your visit.
The Courts place a priority on safety. A safety plan can be organised to ensure you can participate in court events safely. If you have fears for your safety when attending court you should notify FASS so they can request a safety plan.