Family violence is a pressing issue in many societies worldwide, and Australia is no exception. The Australian family law system recognizes the severe impact of family violence on its victims and has implemented measures to protect them, particularly in matters concerning children, property settlement, and exclusive occupancy.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in Australia defines family violence as "violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person's family, or causes the family member to be fearful." It covers a broad spectrum, including physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, financial abuse, and harm to animals or property intended to threaten or control a family member.
Exclusive occupancy refers to the right of one party to exclusively live in the family home, often following separation. When family violence is evident, the court can grant an 'exclusive occupancy order', which forces the perpetrator of violence to leave the family home. This ensures the safety of the victim(s), particularly in situations where relocating might pose significant disruptions, like uprooting children from their familiar environment.
The paramount consideration in Australian family law concerning children is their best interests. In situations involving family violence, it's recognized that exposure to such violence can be harmful to children. Consequently:
Family violence can play a role in property settlements in several ways:
The Australian family law system underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing family violence. While the law aims to ensure that justice is served, it is crucial for victims to seek legal advice and support from professionals and relevant organizations. The multifaceted implications of family violence on exclusive occupancy, contact with children, and property settlement reflect Australia's commitment to protecting the rights and safety of victims.