LawTalk Blog

How does domestic violence affect child custody arrangements?

Domestic violence is not something new. It is something that unfortunately has been going on for a long time but it is a current topic of conversation and a very important issue that is now being given a lot of media attention.

Sadly this is most likely due to a number of extremely violent cases such as the case of Rosie Batty who lost her son Luke at the hand of his violent father a year ago. Now she is a spokesperson for the movement for change in cultural and legal attitudes so that the community and the court system give the victims of domestic violence assistance and support. These efforts have led her to be named Australian of the Year.

Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 requires a court to consider both the “benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents” as well as “the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.”

On 7 June 2012 the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 was enacted to ensure that family violence was given priority consideration in determining child custody cases. This means that a Notice of Risk form must also now be filed with all applications to the Federal Circuit Court relating to children. That Notice must advise the court of any abuse allegedly suffered by the children who are the subject of the application and any risk of them being involved in or witnessing family violence.

Of course there are also times when allegations of family violence might be used by people as a way of manipulating the court system. Unfortunately people who do this make it harder for the court to protect the children who really do need protection from domestic violence.

The system has a long way to go, some people say, before it can effectively protect victims of violence including children but important changes are being made and the topic is finding a voice.

If you have experienced domestic violence in your relationship it is important that you obtain proper legal advice about how that abuse might affect your child custody case.

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Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to Australian Federal legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.

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