MCG Legal    Blog    Domestic & Family Violence Protection Act

The New Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012

The New Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012

The concept of “domestic violence” is not new, however the formulation of a system of rules governing how you can behave in a domestic relationship is. It has never been OK to be physically or emotionally abused by your spouse. However, legislators in times gone by resisted intervening in domestic abuse situations as many “voters” regarded it as an unwelcomed intrusion into their personal lives.

Historically, in order to get police protection from an abusive spouse, the victim would be required to make a complaint and, if the matter proceeded as far as the Courts, give evidence against their abuser. The difficulty with that procedure was that many victims abandoned their allegations when their spouse professed their undying love for them, or even worse, threatened them with further violent acts if their allegations were not withdrawn. The introduction of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act in 1989 closed that legal loophole.

The Act was amended in 2012 and now more accurately reflects contemporary understandings of domestic and family violence. The legislation seeks to reduce and ultimately prevent domestic violence, provide adequate protection for victims of domestic violence and ensure people who commit acts of domestic violence are held accountable for their actions.

The new Act catches a greater range of “relevant relationships”, including same-sex relationships and even “one night stands” where the “one night stand” produces a child. The Act expands the definition of Domestic Violence and increases the safety, protection and wellbeing of people who fear or experience domestic violence. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but statistics demonstrate that domestic violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women with whom they are in an intimate relationship. It is also common for children of that relationship to be exposed to domestic violence. As we have recently witnessed, the consequences of not reporting domestic violence can be fatal.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence as it is defined in the legislation encompasses a broad range of behaviours. The most well known form of domestic violence is assault – where one person touches, or threatens to touch another without their consent, but domestic violence also includes damage to property; emotional and psychological abuse (including threats of self harm if you “leave”); coercing someone to engage in a sexual activity; economic abuse (eg. denying a person financial independence, or threatening to withhold child support); stalking/conducting unauthorised surveillance of a person; or any other behaviour which controls or dominates another person causing that person to fear for their safety or wellbeing.

Domestic violence only occurs within the context of a relevant relationship. A relevant relationship includes spousal relationships, family relationships (a relative), or an informal care relationship. The first two are self explanatory, but an informal care relationship exists between two persons, where one person depends on the other for help in an activity of daily living.

In non life threatening situations an “aggrieved person” (the victim) can apply for a protection order under the Act by attending the nearest Court and completing an application, detailing the allegations of domestic violence. In more serious cases where police are called to a house after a report of domestic violence, the Act requires the police to investigate the incident and provides them with the authority to detain a “respondent” (the perpetrator) for up to eight (8) hours while they complete an application for a protection order.

Where an application for protection under the Act has been granted, it affords the following protection to aggrieved persons:

All acts of domestic violence should be reported to the Queensland Police. The Queensland Police receive specific training in identifying acts of domestic violence and have the power to hold a person in custody until appropriate protection for the victim can be put in place.

The common thread in domestic violence matters is power and control. One person is attempting to exert power or control over another, either physically or emotionally. An important step in preventing further acts of domestic violence is wrestling back that power and control. A simple way of achieving that is by not responding to that text message – don’t fuel the fire.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should immediately contact the Police. If you have been accused of committing acts of domestic violence then we encourage you to seek legal representation. We also encourage you to make contact with the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, which has been operating on the Gold Coast since 1992 and offers counselling to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

The article is intended to offer simple explanations to frequently asked questions about Domestic Violence and what practical impact, if any, the new Act has on domestic relationships. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as same as it does not answer questions specific to your situation.

Contact us today to discuss your Family Law matter.

Recent Articles

Child Custody & Parenting Disputes

Many relationship breakdowns involve children – which leaves the question, “How will the children spend time with their mother and father post separation?”.  The paramount consideration in all disputes involving children is the concept of the “child’s best interestsR...

Read More

DNA Testing & Paternity

A relationship breakdown involving children can occasionally raise questions about the paternity of the child.  Ultimately DNA testing will determine beyond any reasonable doubt who the child’s parents are, but other matters are taken into account before that DNA test is conducted. A child bor...

Read More

Grandparents Rights to See Grandchildren

A relationship breakdown involving children not only affects the parents directly involved, but often the extended family members such as grandparents. The Family Law Act 1975 (“the legislation”) supports the generally held view that children should be entitled to have a relationship with their g...

Read More

Child Support Agreements

A written agreement between parents or carers of children about the payments to be made in support their children is called a child support agreement.  Child support can be made in all sorts of ways, e.g. direct payment of a set amount to one of the parents/carers into their nominated bank account e...

Read More

Child Location and Recovery Applications

Some post separation parenting disputes involve the removal of children from their geographical location. Changing a child’s living arrangements, such that it makes it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent is a major change in a child’s life and something ...

Read More

Pre Relationship Binding Financial Agreements

It is possible for two parties about to enter into a relationship to enter into a legally binding financial agreement which details how “pre-relationship assets” and “matrimonial assets” will be divided in the event of separation. It is important that both parties entering int...

Read More

Consent Orders & Separation Agreements

Your relationship has broken down and like many couples you have accumulated assets during that relationship.  You can agree on how your property should be divided without any court intervention and the most effective way to distribute the matrimonial assets is through one of the following legal ag...

Read More

Child Relocation Disputes

Parenting disputes involving the relocation of a child or children of a relationship are relatively common and always controversial. Recent legal developments result in the establishment of the following legal principle:- “Where a parent of a child or children is seeking an order from the court per...

Read More

Family Mediation Services

Mediation is a process in which parties to a dispute, with the assistance of a neutral third party (the mediator), identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement. The mediator has no authority to bind participants to a negotiated agreement, bu...

Read More

Spousal Maintenance

One party to a marriage (read into this de facto) is liable to maintain the other party to the marriage if the other party is unable to support themself adequately and to the extent the first party is reasonably able to do so. Before making any spousal maintenance orders a court must consider what pr...

Read More

Property Settlements - for both married and de facto relationships

Sadly, not all relationships last. Many couples are able to successfully negotiate the division of their assets and care of their children without legal intervention. But, there are some who cannot and that’s where we get involved. This article will explain the general court processes and the...

Read More

Resolving Financial Matters in Family Law

In resolving property matters arising from the breakdown of either a marriage or a de-facto relationship, the Family Law Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have jurisdiction to resolve these matters pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975. With regard to de-facto relationships, there are a...

Read More