Family Court Family Violence Best Practice Principles Applied
Back in May the Family Court publicly released its Family Violence Best Practice Principles. These principles are aimed at assisting Family Court judges and Federal Magistrates in how to respond to family violence.
In the first reported case, the Full Court of the Family Court has now used these best practice principles. In Oakley and Cooper, the Full Court had this to say:
The appeal book did not contain a notice …asserting abuse of the children
or that there had been family violence by the mother. On 6 March 2009, that
is, after the completion of the proceedings before his Honour, the
Attorney-General, the Honourable Robert McClelland MP launched the Family Court of
Australia’s “ Best Practice Principles
for use in Parenting Disputes when Family Violence or Abuse is Alleged”. The
principles in that document are relevant to situations where abuse is alleged to
have occurred regardless of whether a notice [of child abuse or family violence]
has been filed.
Section F of the principles sets out a number of matters which may be
considered where the Court orders that a child should spend time with a parent
against whom findings have been made that allegations of family violence or
abuse are proven.
We accept, of course, that the Federal Magistrate did not have the
benefit of guidance from the document now published. But, the issue of family
violence is, as is made abundantly clear by the Act, extremely important.
Highlighting, some of the recommended considerations in the document just
referred to, as we will now do, serves to illustrate how they might be of
assistance to courts in framing orders which could assist the future well being
of children in cases whose facts are similar to those before the Federal
Magistrate in this case. For example:
(iii) What conditions (for
example by way of seeking advice or treatment) should be complied with by the
party in whose favour the order has been made.
(vi) Whether the order
should be supervised by a Family Consultant for a limited period of time or
referred to an external Parenting Orders Program for longer term supervision and
(vii) Whether a Family Consultant should be directed to give one or
both parties assistance to comply with the parenting order.
any parenting order or injunction is inconsistent with a family violence order
and the extent of any inconsistency.