The reality is that there is often a correlation between the breakdown of a relationship and a spike in family violence incidents, which have a significant impact upon the adults and children concerned. Even children who aren’t direct witnesses to family violence often bear the brunt of the consequences.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) defines family violence as violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful. This definition relates to physical abuse, including but not limited to assault, sexual assault, and also non-physical abuse, including but not limited to stalking, verbal and psychological abuse. In addition to the more prominent forms of family violence there is another form of abuse: financial abuse; this relates to the withholding of financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member.
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 gives power to the Victorian Courts to make an Interim Intervention Order or Final Intervention Order. An Intervention Order is an Order made by the Court protecting an individual, or several individuals (referred to as Affected Persons) from another individual (referred to as the Respondent). There are two types of Intervention Orders: Family Violence Intervention Orders and Personal Safety Intervention Orders (which are made when Respondents are a non-family member of the Affected Person).
An Interim Intervention Order is made by a Magistrate where the Court is satisfied that it is necessary to ensure the safety of an affected family member. To make a Final Intervention Order the Court is must determine whether family violence has been committed and if it is likely to occur again. Some examples of the conditions that a Court may include in an Interim or Final Intervention are that a Respondent must not:
There are a number of exceptions to the above conditions that may be ordered by the Court, for example communication might be permitted but only by SMS or email on the basis that no family violence is committed. The exceptions can help parties to resolve their parenting or property issues.
If you, or someone you know, are the victim of family violence, you may wish to obtain the protection of an Intervention Order. An application for an Intervention Order can be made before or after parties have separated, depending on the circumstances. If you are a Respondent to an Intervention Order, you may wish to obtain advice about your obligations and the broader legal implications of the Order.