July 25, 2017

Family Law Update: The Federal Government has released draft legislation to amend the Family Law Act to ensure victims of family violence are protected from being personally cross–examined by their alleged perpetrators.

The draft amendments would implement a ban on self-represented parties directly cross-examining their former partners where one party is convicted or charged with an offence involving violence against another party.  The Court is also proposed to have discretion to disallow direct
cross-examination in other matters where there are allegations of family violence.

The Court will be able to appoint a person to act as an intermediary to ask questions in
cross-examination on behalf of a party to maintain procedural fairness.

It is the view of our Accredited Family Law specialist lawyer, Simon Caldwell that these changes respond to concerns that victims of family violence are not further traumatised in putting evidence before the Court while ensuring the framework does not encourage false allegations of family violence.  The Courts already have a range of powers to protect vulnerable witnesses during hearings such as requiring witnesses to give evidence by video link and not allowing cross-examination of witnesses in child related matters but it is hoped that these new amendments will strengthen the protections afforded to victims of family violence.

The exposure draft of the legislation can be found at:

https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/Family-violence-cross-examination-amendments.aspx

If you would like any more information please do not hesitate to contact Mbt Lawyers.

You’re in expert hands.

02 6648 7600