Family violence is 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. A child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence.
Unfortunately, many people live with family violence. Sometimes, even when there is no history of family violence, family violence becomes an issue when a relationship is breaking down and people are extremely stressed, angry and emotional. At Doolan Callaghan Family Lawyers we are highly experienced in dealing with family violence issues and you can speak to us confidentially about any concerns you have in this area and we will help you to work out the best solution to deal with the problem.
Examples of behaviour that may constitute family violence include (but are not limited to):
• an assault; or
• a sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour; or
• stalking; or
• repeated derogatory taunts; or
• intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
• intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or
• unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; 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
• preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
• unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, or his or her liberty.
Research confirms the devastating impact family violence can have on children’s lives and their physical and emotional development. Violence affects children in many ways, whether it is directed at the children or directed at other members of their family and witnessed by the children. Courts consider family violence when making orders about children. Examples of situations that may constitute a child being exposed to family violence include (but are not limited to) the child:
• overhearing threats of death or personal injury by a member of the child’s family towards another member of the child’s family; or
• seeing or hearing an assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family; or
• comforting or providing assistance to a member of the child’s family who has been assaulted by another member of the child’s family; or
• cleaning up a site after a member of the child’s family has intentionally damaged property of another member of the child’s family; or
• being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving the assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family.
When there is family violence often a Family Violence Order is made. A Family Violence Order is called different things in different States. In NSW, a family violence order is called an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (commonly known as an AVO). An AVO may forbid one parent from coming within a set distance of another parent or stalking or harassing them. Under the Family Law Act, family violence orders can allow parties to come into contact with each other only for:
• delivering or collecting a child who is spending time with a parent or other person (as provided by the Family Law Act), or
• enabling parties to attend family counselling, family dispute resolution, a family consultant meeting or other court events and during court proceedings.
It is important to get sound specialised legal advice in relation to AVOs and family violence issues. Doolan Callaghan Family Lawyers can help you in this area. If you are under any immediate threat of family violence, you should call the police.