Domestic violence (DV) has been in the news lately, due to the tireless efforts of campaigner Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year. This week we look at the intersection of DV proceedings and family law.
A recent case of Tindall & Saldo (2015) concerned a mother who didn’t facilitate a Family Court order that her child spend supervised time with the father. The father filed a contravention application and took the mother back to court for failing to ensure the child had contact with the father.
As it turned out the father had allegedly assaulted the mother throughout the relationship, and ultimately the father pleaded guilty in a criminal trial. After the mother gave evidence in the criminal trial the father changed his plea to not guilty of DV.
The mother then stopped the child having time with the father, fearing for the child’s life. She argued in her family court contravention hearing that she had a genuine and reasonable belief that the father would carry out threats to kill her and the child.
On appeal, the judges agreed with her and noted that all the circumstances surrounding the criminal trial should have been taken into account.
This case highlights the importance of going to police and speaking out against DV, including attending a criminal trial as a witness against the alleged assaulter. The outcome of those proceedings, or even the circumstances around those criminal proceedings can have a significant impact on any simultaneous or later Family Court proceedings. If you have any concerns about DV, contact police immediately. If you have connected DV/family law cases, we suggest raising these issues with your solicitor immediately. If you would like to speak to an experienced family law solicitor, contact our Cristina Huesch, Accredited Specialist in Family Law, or our experienced lawyers Sharla Stevens or Angela Li.