Written by Family Law Partner Joelene Seaton
Family members going through family court may be able to access more protections through the one federal court if a Bill, which was introduced to parliament recently, is passed.
The Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 is intended to establish criminally enforceable federal family violence orders. This would mean you could access stronger protections in relation to family violence.
Currently, you have to apply for personal protections that are only civilly enforceable, which means that you would have to bring a private application for contravention of a protection order (if the perpetrator breaches a personal protection order made in the Family Courts).
Federal family violence orders, which would be issuable in federal and WA family law courts, would operate similarly to state and territory domestic violence orders, Protection Order in Queensland, and intend to help prevent family violence by restricting a person’s behaviours, communications or movements.
Access to criminally enforceable federal family violence orders would mean that if you are before a family law court you would not have to initiate separate proceedings in a state or territory court for a criminally enforceable protection order.
If passed, this Bill would mean rules could be put in place that you would be able to apply for the protection you need in the court where your existing matter is already being heard.
This would reduce the need for people having to navigate multiple courts and systems to address their legal matters, which we know can create delays, confusion and prolonged exposure to risks of violence.
Importantly, all states and territories have now agreed in principle that federal family violence orders would be recognised and enforced by local police under the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme.
We will be watching this progression of this Bill closely and update you on any developments that will affect your family law legal matters.
If you are experiencing family violence, local support services are available.