In an interesting new development, the ability for abusive spouses in high-conflict divorces to cross-examine their victims in the family courts has been ended. The Government has announced the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Act 2018, which took effect on 11 March 2019, applying to cross-examinations in court proceedings after 11 September 2019.
The Act bans personal examination of victims in certain circumstances in family law proceedings by the alleged perpetrating party and instead requires that cross-examination be conducted by a legal representative. The alleged perpetrating party will have to therefore hire a lawyer or apply for legal aid under the Commonwealth Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties Scheme. If they don’t get legal representation, they cannot cross-examine the other party.
The law apply where there is an allegation of family violence between parties and if certain other conditions are met, such as if a party has been convicted or charged with family violence offence, or if a family violence order applies, or the court makes a certain order. If the specific conditions aren’t met, the court is required to use other protections for victims where allegations of family violence are made.
According to the Attorney-General:
“While these measures apply in family law proceedings, they also have relevance for family violence matters in state and territory courts as the presence of a conviction or a final family violence order will now result in parties being unable to personally cross-examine one another in a family violence situation.”
Courts can make Orders to prevent personal cross-examination themselves or on the application of a party or an independent children’s lawyer.
A copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum can be obtained here.
Are you experiencing family violence and need family law assistance? Alliance Legal Services can help you once you have decided to take a legal course of action.
Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Legal Services on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Legal Services.