Family courts are domestic and family violence courts. The recent ALRC Family Law for the Future – An Inquiry into the Family Law System – Final Report 2018 revealed that among parents who use courts to resolve parenting issues 54% reported physical violence while 85% reported emotional abuse. These statistics are probably an under report. Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) is about gaining or keeping power and control over another person causing fear and intimidation and includes a range of different forms of abuse. When DFV is present it colours and shapes all interactions between those involved.
Victims of DFV turn to the family law system for protection for themselves and their children but perpetrators can use the law and courts systems to further abuse and control their victims both in parenting and financial matters.
Acknowledging the prevalence of DFV in this space and taking practical steps to address this reality will have direct benefits for survivors through safer orders and better decision making, while saving costs by de-incentivising vexatious perpetrator litigation and triaging matters away from litigation to safety-focused diversionary programs.
For more information view our A safer way forward for the family law system fact sheets.