While it is always advisable for a victim of family violence to ensure they are safe from a perpetrator and to avoid any situation where contact may result in a recurrence of violence, this is not easy if there are children of the marriage or relationship. There is some evidence that the Family Law Courts are more willing, at least temporarily, to suspend contact in more serious cases of violence until adequate arrangements are in place. However, it is unlikely that the Court will suspend contact indefinitely.
The best protection for a person afraid of violence is to alter the arrangements for contact so that the person need not be present when the children are collected or returned. This can be arranged through friends or relatives or someone else who can be present when the children are handed over for contact. Many people arrange for children to be picked up and returned at police stations or other public places.
Existing contact orders can be varied to include new arrangements so that potentially violent situations may be avoided.
A State Magistrates Court may alter contact arrangements for up to 21 days as part of an interim intervention order. If the Magistrates Court has evidence before it that was not presented to the Family Law Court that made the contact order about abuse of a parent who is required to give contact, a child who may be exposed to abuse of their parent, or abuse of the child themselves, then the Magistrates Court may change the contact order as part of a final intervention order.
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