Do the Family Law Courts take family violence into account?
Yes. In making parenting orders in the best interests of a child, the Court must give the greatest consideration to the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm (from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence) [see Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 60CC(2A)].
The Court must also consider:
- any intervention order involving the child or a member of the child's family [s 60CC(3)(j)]
- if an intervention order applies, or has applied to the child or a member of the child's family, any relevant inferences that can be drawn from the order, taking into account the nature of the order, the circumstances in which it was made, the evidence admitted and findings made in proceedings for the order and any other relevant matter [s 60CC(3)(k)].
This aims to resolve conflicts between intervention orders made by the State Magistrates Court and parenting orders made by the Family Law Courts, ensuring that people are not exposed to violence and also that the right of the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents is respected.
When a Family Law Court makes a parenting order that is inconsistent with an intervention order, the Court must arrange for an explanation of:
- the purpose of the contact order
- the obligations that the order creates
- the consequences that may follow if there is failure to comply
- the reasons for the making of the order inconsistent with the intervention order, and,
- the circumstances in which the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) order may be varied or revoked.
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