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Family Violence

New Rules to protect victims of family violence commencing September 2019

Until now it has been possible for a perpetrator of family violence to directly cross-examine their victim in proceedings before the Family Court.

The Commonwealth Attorney General, the Hon Christian Porter MP said “Recent research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that there were 173 final hearings in the Federal Family Law Courts over 2 years between 2015 and 2017, involving allegations of family violence where one or both parties were self-represented.”

On 5 December 2018 the Commonwealth Parliament passed legislation that will ban direct cross-examination in certain circumstances.

The changes are contained in the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence & Cross-Exanimation of Parties) Act 2018.

Although the Act passed the Parliament in December 2018, the new Rules will only apply to cross-examinations conducted from September 2019 onwards.

Instead of self-represented parties conducting direct cross-examination, the cross-examination will be conducted by a legal representative.

The Commonwealth Government will establish and fund a scheme to provide legal representation to parties subject to the ban (the perpetrator and also the victim).

Please click here to view the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence & Cross-Exanimation of Parties) Act 2018. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018A00159

Please click here to view the Media Release issued by the Commonwealth Attorney General, the Hon. Christian Porter MP on 5 December 2018. https://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media/Pages/Direct-cross-examination-ban-gets-the-go-ahead-5-december-2018.aspx

Please click here to view the Report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies on direct cross-examination in family law matters. https://aifs.gov.au/publications/direct-cross-examination-family-law-matters.

William Sloan I Director I Accredited Family Law Specialist

E: william.sloan@kimwilson.com.au

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