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Proposed changes for cross examination in domestic violence relationships

Under our current legislation, if you are a victim of domestic violence and your ex-partner is self-represented in the matter, you may be subject to questioning by your alleged aggressor.  This can often be a very traumatic experience and may place victims under significant distress and fear.

Domestic violence is very common in the family law system and there are many types. It can be defined as violent, abusive or intimidating behavior in the home and can be physical, sexual, emotional or financial.  Domestic violence can occur on a constant basis or can be occasional in nature.

It is the normal procedure for alleged perpetrators who are self-represented in family law proceedings to interrogate their ex-partners in the court room and to directly question them in respect of incidents that have occurred during the relationship.

The Federal Government is currently in the process of drafting legislation to protect victims of family violence from being subject to cross examination by their ex-partner.

According to the Attorney-General’s Department, under the proposed amendments, an alleged attacker, who has been convicted or charged with a violent offence, will not be able to cross examine the victim without leave( that is, permission) of the Court. Permission would only likely be granted in a circumstance where both parties consent, thereby providing the victim with the opportunity to refuse.

The reforms which allow for victims to freely come forward about their alleged domestic violence without fear of again facing their ex-partner in a court room are well overdue.

The proposed amendments to the Family Law Act will have an impact in allowing victims of domestic violence to have their story heard in front of the judge and not feel fear or distress whilst being questioned by an alleged attacker.

All parties should be given the opportunity to put their story to the court to enable a Judge to ensure that all important information is made available to protect the best interests of the children in family law proceedings.

Although this is a small step for victims in the family law system, it is a step to ensure all victims of domestic violence are protected within our system.

If you require any assistance with your family law matter and/or are a victim of domestic violence, please get in touch with Georgiadis Lawyers on (08) 8210 5400 and we can discuss ways we can assist you in reaching your desired result.

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