In 2012, the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 (Cth) commenced. This legislation expanded the definition of family violence in the Family Law Act.
Family violence is now defined as violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful. Family violence now includes, but is not limited to: assault, sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour, stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging or destroying property, intentionally causing death or injury to an animal, unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had, or unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living. Family violence is known to be underreported.
In January 2015, in an effort to overcome the under reporting of family violence, the Federal Circuit Court introduced a new rule that required a Notice of Risk to be filed with any Initiating Application or Response to an Initiating Application if that application is seeking parenting orders. An Application or Response will now not be accepted by the Federal Circuit Court for filing without the Notice of Risk.
The Notice of Risk was previously only required where allegations of child abuse or family violence were made. It is now required to be filed in every matter in the Federal Circuit Court which involves parenting matters, regardless of whether such allegations are made. The Notice of Risk notifies the relevant child protection authority of any allegations made, in addition to enabling the Court to be fully informed of issues pertaining to abuse and violence.
It is important that if you have any concerns about family violence or risks of family violence that you consult a lawyer so that those concerns can be properly detailed in the Notice of Risk to ensure that the Court can appropriately deal with such concerns and intervene when necessary.