New Changes to the definition of ‘family violence’ in the Family Law Act

Prior to June 2012, " Family Violence" was defined by the Family Law Act as " conduct, whether actual or threatened, by a person towards, or towards the property of, a member of the person's family that causes that or any other member of the person's family reasonably to fear for, or reasonably to be apprehensive about, his or her personal wellbeing or safety".

Due to the increasing statistics of domestic violence in Australia, the definition of Family Violence was amended. Subsection 4AB(1) in the Family Law Act now defines Family Violence 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”.

The common thread still lies in the requirement for a person exposed to the relevant behaviour to be fearful of it. However the requirement for the fear to be reasonable has been removed. This has widened the behaviours that can now be caught by the definition of Family Violence.

Some examples of behaviour that may constitute Family Violence are (but not limited to):

  • repeated derogatory taunts; or
  • 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
  • damage to property or pets;
  • stalking; or
  • an assault.

If you are experiencing violence in a relationship, you can apply for a Domestic Violence Order. Your children can also be included on a Domestic Violence Order to protect them.

If you believe that you are being subjected to Family Violence and wish to speak with an experienced solicitor, please contact our office. Alternatively, if you have been served as a Respondent in an Application for a Protection Order and wish to speak with an experienced solicitor, please contact our office.

At Briese Lawyers we can advise you about your options in relation to the Court process in respect to domestic violence matters, your options regarding contesting an Application for a Protection Order or representation for domestic violence proceedings and advise you regarding your prospects and the likely Court outcomes in your circumstance.


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