20 May 2014

The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and other Measures Act) 2011(Cth) (the FV amendments) which amended the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (‘the FLA’) came into operation on the 7 June 2012.  This legislation was largely a result of continued concerns that while family violence is a fairly common occurrence on separation, the FLA does not deal well with family violence.


The FV amendments were a result of three key reports that looked at how the family law system deals with family violence. These reports were:


·         Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms –  Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS);


·         Family Courts Violence Review Honourable Professor Richard Chisholm AM;


·         Improving responses to family violence in the family law system: An advice on the intersection of family violence and family law issues  – Family Law Council.


The reports identified a significant failure of the FLA to adequately protect children and other family members from family violence, particularly arising from parenting disputes. Specifically the FLA did not contain any provisions that prioritised protecting children harm over parents pursuing their goal of “shared parenting”.  There was concern that the FLA had moved away from protecting women and children to acceding to men’s demand for increased time with their children.


 


The main changes that were introduced into the FLA by the FV amendments were:


  



a)    Section 4AB – a new much broader definitions of family violence, exposure to family violence and child abuse – this new definition of family violence is “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”.

 

b)    The FV amendments to the FLA identifies examples of this behaviour including (but not limited to) the following:




    1. an assault; or

    2. a sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour; or

    3. stalking; or

    4. repeated derogatory taunts; or

    5. intentionally damaging or destroying property; or

    6. intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or

    7. unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; or

    8. unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support; or

    9. preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or

    10. unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty.
             



c)   The FV amendments state that a child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence including:




    1. overhearing threats of death or personal injury by a member of the child’s family towards another member of the child’s family; or

    2. seeing or hearing an assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family; or

    3. comforting or providing assistance to a member of the child’s family who has been assaulted by another member of the child’s family; or

    4. cleaning up a site after a member of the child’s family has intentionally damaged property of another member of the child’s family; or

    5. being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving the assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family.



When determining the best interests of the child the court is now directed to take into account “primary” and “additional” considerations.  The two primary considerations are:



 


1.    the benefit to a child of having a meaningful relationship with each of the child’s parents; and


2.    the need to protect the child from harm. The FV amendments have added an additional requirement that the court to give “greater weight” to the need to protect the child from harm.



 


The Family Violence amendments to the Family Law Act have assisted court officers to assess risk, make decisions about future parenting arrangements that are safer for children and improve the family courts’ ability to identify and respond to cases of violence.


 


This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

100 years of Supporting West Australians

"My family law experience with Mary Roubos has restored my faith in solicitors in general. She not only demonstrated her legal expertise and flair, but also showed a compassionate and understanding nature during the lengthy process. I felt that Mary went above and beyond her obligations as my solicitor, and really listened to me. I would highly recommend Mary and her assistant Debra Wilson, who also demonstrated professionalism and excellence on all levels."

Renee Frangiosa

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

"I found Ben most helpful and always prompt to let me know where things were at. Will definately use Ben again and will recommend to others."

Gerrit and Mary Van Bralal

"We wish to express our thanks for your help in attending to our mother/ wife's will - Mrs Grace Margaret Vessey. Aimee was extremely helpful and easy to deal with. We are greatful for your help with our affairs."

Ms Rosalyn Norman, Mr Stephen Vessey

"Thank you ever so much for all your hard work on my case Nicole, I really appreciate everything you did for me."

Workers Compensation Client

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"I highly recommend the services of HHG Legal Group for both personal and business needs. HHG is very up to date with legal advice and are in tune with the evolution of business."

Robert Forgione

"Sue and myself would like to thank HHG for the way in which our dispute was resolved. It is good to know that people who do not have an understanding of the legal system can rely on people like yourself and the company you represent. Without the assistance of HHG we could not have resolved the problems we were facing, not only have we resolved the issue but the outcome was more favourable then we would have thought possible. Thank-you and please pass on our thanks to all those who worked behind the scenes to achieve this outcome."

Rick and Sue Ashton

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at McKinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years and most recently in 2013 and February 2014.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law.

I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"Anne Hurley has been such a valuable resource of information and advice, her wealth of knowledge is truly impressive and her ability to explain things in a way that makes them easily understood is very much appreciated. Anne and the wider HHG Legal Group are always a pleasure to work with."

Giorgia Parham

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Anne Hurley. She helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly , professional manner. First class, thanks Anne"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO AltusQ Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group have provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyound reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligernce process have been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"I have experienced how good the HHG Legal Group team are over the last 6 years and highly recommend them."

Lyn Hawkins

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Anne."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Legal Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker