If you are experiencing family violence, the law can assist you in obtaining protection though a Family Violence Intervention Order.
Family violence is defined at section 4AB of the Family Law Act as, ‘threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes them to be fearful’. Examples of family violence include but are not limited to:
- Physical assault;
- Sexual assault;
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
- Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal.
Pursuant to section 4AB(3) of the Act, a child will have been exposed to family violence ‘if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence’. Section 4AB (4) provides a non-exhaustive list of examples that may constitute a child being exposed to family violence. For example, a child will have been exposed to family violence if he or she comforts or provides assistance to a member of the child’s family who has been assault by another member of the child’s family.
A person affected by family violence may obtain an intervention order at the Magistrates Court. Children under 18 can be listed as Affected Family Members in Intervention Order proceedings if they have been exposed to family violence.
The conditions of Family Violence Intervention Orders vary and can restrict the respondent from doing such acts that include but are not limited to:
- Going within a certain distance of a protected person;
- Contacting or communicating with a protected person;
- Being at a particular location; or
- Arranging for an agent to do what the respondent is not allowed to do under the order.
Often, in situations where there are children involved, Intervention Orders will include an exception that allows the respondent and applicant to make contact in writing but only in regard to negotiating parenting arrangements. However, it is important to note this is exception is not always present. Sometimes these exceptions can be confusing and individuals are encouraged to seek legal advice if they are unclear about what they can and cannot do.
When making an application to the Family Law Courts for parenting orders, section 60CF(1) of the Act states that parties must inform the court of a family violence intervention order. Pursuant to section 60CC(3)(k) the Court is then required to consider the inferences that can be drawn from a family violence order.
At Nicholes Family Lawyers we can assist you in completing an Application for an Intervention Order and with representation at Interim and Contested Hearings. If you require immediate protection from family violence we encourage you to contact Victoria Police who can obtain a Safety Notice on your behalf as an interim measure before an Intervention Order is obtained.