The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act was introduced in 1989 and further strengthened in 2012. The Act now more accurately reflects contemporary understandings of domestic and family violence.
Gold Coast family lawyers, practicing in family law are increasingly providing consultations on domestic violence matters, more than ever before, as the new Act catches a greater range of 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.
So, what is domestic violence? Domestic violence can be abuse that is physical, sexual, emotional or economical. It also includes coercive, threatening, or controlling behaviour, or any other type of behaviour that causes a person to fear for their safety or well being.
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:-
- orders the respondents to be of good behaviour toward you;
- prevents further acts of domestic violence to you or your associates (family, friends etc.) by making a breach of the order a criminal offence with more severe punishment;
- prevents a respondent from attending certain premises, or places;
- provides the police and/or the Court with the power to evict a respondent from their home temporarily or until the Court proceedings are finalised; and
- any other orders as the Court see fit with the safety, protection and wellbeing of victims of Domestic Violence of paramount importance.
So, how is domestic violence connected to family law and the inevitable division of assets when relationships breakdown? The Courts generally adopt a “no fault” policy, so ordinarily, it doesn’t matter why you have broken up, it just matters that you have.
As you may have already read in our article about property settlements (insert hyperlink here), the Courts consider the contributions each party makes to the preservation, or acquisition of relationship assets. There are occasions where a party’s conduct in a relationship makes the other party’s contributions more arduous than they ought to have been e.g. one party assaults another party regularly, causing them to have time off work, a party cleaning up and fixing broken property damaged in a violent outburst by the other party. Or, a party protecting the children from the violent outbursts, by removing them from the violent outburst. It does not extend to incidents of infidelity.
If you are unsure whether you are a victim of domestic violence you should contact one of our Gold Coast family lawyers immediately or if your situation is life threatening call 000.
The article is written by MCG Legal, Gold Coast family lawyers. This paper is intended to offer simple explanations to frequently asked questions about Domestic Violence and what practical impact, if any, domestic violence has on the division of matrimonial assets. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as same as it does not answer questions specific to your situation.