This article delves into the intricacies of how family violence operates under Australian family law and its implications

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.

1. Definition of Family Violence

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.

2. Impact on Exclusive Occupancy

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.

3. Impact on Contact with Children

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:

  • The court might order supervised contact or, in severe cases, no contact between the abusive parent and the child.
  • A parent who has suffered violence may be fearful of facilitating contact between the child and the abusive parent, and the courts will consider this fear when determining the arrangements.
  • If a parent alleges family violence, the court can require evidence (like reports from police, child protection, or medical professionals) to determine the veracity and impact of the claims.

4. Impact on Property Settlement

Family violence can play a role in property settlements in several ways:

  • Economic Impact: Victims of family violence might not have had the opportunity to contribute financially to the family, given the controlling nature of their relationship. Australian courts recognize these non-financial contributions.
  • Compensation: In some cases, if one party has caused the other significant health issues or financial setbacks due to violence, it might affect the property settlement as a form of compensation.
  • Negotiations: The traumatic aftermath of violence can affect a victim's ability to negotiate property settlements assertively. This necessitates the intervention of legal professionals to ensure fairness.


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.