What can the Family Law Courts do?

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the Family Law Courts have the power to grant injunctions restraining one party from molesting, assaulting, harassing or interfering with the other party or with the children of the marriage and from entering upon premises occupied by the other party

In some exceptional circumstances the Family Law Courts may evict one person so that the other person can have the sole occupancy of the home [see Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 114]. To obtain an injunction there must be evidence of threats, physical and/or verbal assault or threats to the welfare of the children. The injunction may be granted ex parte (that is after hearing only one of the parties) in urgent cases. Injunction orders can be made within a week if extremely urgent. In the usual course it may take a few weeks. Because the allegations must be put in affidavit (written) form, it is recommended that the applicant have a lawyer.

A police officer, who believes on reasonable grounds that a person has breached an injunction by threatening or causing injury, can arrest that person without a warrant. However, normally the applicant must apply back to the Family Law Courts, and a contravention or breach of the order must be proven for the offending party to be punished. The penalty can be a fine or a bond (to forfeit money if the order is broken again). People who refuse to enter a bond can be imprisoned for up to three months. It usually takes a considerable amount of time from the initial application for contravention until the final determination of the matter by the Family Law Courts. Anyone seeking this type of order should have a lawyer.

It is recommended that where family violence is being experienced, an intervention order is much more effective and should be sought first. An intervention order can be sought even if there is a current injunction order in place from the Family Law Courts. It can also be more immediately and directly enforced by State police, rather than through the family law system. An injunction from the Family Law Courts can not be instituted if there are current intervention orders in place or proceedings are currently underway.

What can the Family Law Courts do?  :  Last Revised: Tue Apr 8th 2014
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