Family violence: Frequently asked questions

If you are in immediate danger call 000

 

Do I have to tell the Court about family violence?

Yes. You must tell the Court about any relevant family violence orders and file a copy of any family violence orders. This is because they may affect the Court orders, particularly orders about a child spending time with a parent or other person. The Court must make sure that orders do not expose people to family violence.

When the Court knows about a family violence order, it can make parenting orders that take the order into account. For example, it can arrange for an independent person to be present during hand-over times or order that the time the child spends with a parent or other person takes place at a children's contact centre.

Can I bring a support person or friend to a conference or other court appointment?

If you are not legally represented (i.e. you don’t have a lawyer) you may bring a friend or support person with you to a court conference or other court appointment. The extent of a support person's involvement in the conference/appointment will be at the discretion of the Registrar or Court Child Expert conducting the conference/appointment.

If you have a friend or support person with you, they may sit at the back of the courtroom. Children and young people under 18 are not permitted in the courtroom.

Can I bring a support person or friend to a hearing?

During a hearing, if you are not legally represented, you may be allowed to bring a support person with you. However, the extent of the support person's involvement in the hearing will be at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Where can I get advice about court processes and parenting orders when there have been instances of family violence?

The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) is a national telephone service that helps families affected by relationship or separation issues. FRAL provides information about the family law system, parenting arrangements after separation and advice on family separation issues. Calls to FRAL are confidential and you are able to receive help anonymously.

During difficult times, many people are faced with a complex mix of emotional and practical issues. The FRAL may be able to assist you. FRAL offers a national telephone service that helps families affected by family violence and other relationship issues. They also provide counselling and referrals for all family members, including children. FRAL also assists with referrals to other services such as Centrelink, Child Support or a legal service.

Anyone can call FRAL – parents, grandparents, children, young people, other family members or friends. Their services include:

  • advice on family separation issues
  • legal advice
  • information about the impact of conflict on children
  • telephone-based family dispute resolution
  • referrals to Family Relationship Centres and other dispute resolution services, and
  • referrals to a range of other services to help with family relationship and separation issues.

Visit www.familyrelationships.gov.au or call 1800 050 321.

What if a family law order is made that is inconsistent with a family violence order?

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court may make a parenting order or an injunction that is inconsistent with a state or territory order. For more information go to:

If you have a family law parenting order that is inconsistent with a family violence order, it is important that you obtain legal advice so you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. The Court is unable to provide legal advice because to do so could seriously compromise the Court's ability to impartially determine a case. For more information visit Legal help.

What is a child protection order?

Child protection orders are different to family violence orders. They are made by a state children's court when it is believed that a child is in need of protection. However, children can sometimes be included on family violence orders made for a parent (if appropriate). 

I or someone I am close to is experiencing family violence. What can I do?

Please reach out to a support service or call the police if you feel you are in imminent danger. Some links to services can be found on the Department of Social Services website.

The Court also has a family violence directory with links and contact details of support services in each state and territory. See Get help and support.

I have/am experiencing family violence and have an upcoming court case. Where can I get support for my court event?

The Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS) is an integrated duty lawyer and social worker service available for families affected by family violence or abuse. This service is run by Legal Aid and is free.

FASS may be able to help you with preparing documentation, organising referral to a service or assistance with court proceedings. Visit https://familyviolencelaw.gov.au/fass/ to contact FASS in your state or territory.

If you need the assistance of FASS when you are at court, you should proceed to their reception desk when you arrive at the Court registry, although it may be helpful to contact them prior to your visit.

The Court places a priority on safety. A safety plan can be organised to ensure you can participate in court events safely. If you have fears for your safety when attending court you should notify FASS so they can request a safety plan.

I’ve committed family violence and I need to get help.

You cannot undo what you have already done, but you can get help to stop yourself from doing it again. If you have committed family violence, or are worried that you might commit family violence, there is help and support available.

For information about support and resources for, see: