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Cross Examination of Victims of Family Violence in Family Courts

Cross Examination of Victims of Family Violence in Family Courts

Family Law Amendment

New laws proposed by the Federal Government will protect victims of family violence from cross-examination by their alleged abusers.

In Family Law matters, many individuals choose to represent themselves in Court. This means victims of violence may be directly interrogated by their alleged abuser.

The proposed new laws respond to concerns that family violence victims may be subject to further trauma from being directly cross examined by their alleged perpetrator.

Under the draft amendments, in circumstances where a party is self-represented and allegations of serious family violence has been made against them, a Court appointed representative will ask questions on behalf of the alleged perpetrator.

The draft amendments currently provide that alleged abusers can only personally cross-examination if both parties consent and leave has been granted by the Court.

When granting leave, the Court will be obliged to consider the following:

  1. whether the cross-examination will adversely affect the ability of the witness party to testify under the cross examination as well as the examining parties ability to conduct the cross- examination; and
  2. whether the cross examination will have a harmful impact on the party who is the alleged victim of the family violence.

Ultimately, if these laws are accepted in their current form, alleged abusers will not be permitted to directly cross-examine their victims unless the victim and the Court both agree.

Further information is available on the Attorney General’s Website.

E: angela.hayes@kimwilson.com.au

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