The Federal Parliament recently passed the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018 which effectively prohibits family violence perpetrators from being able to directly cross-examine their victims in Family Court proceedings.
The bill forbids direct cross-examination in circumstances where there is a Final Family Violence Intervention Order in force or where there are pending charges or convictions in relation to family violence offences. The bill also gives Judicial Officers the discretion to prohibit direct cross-examination in cases where allegations of domestic violence have been raised by a party or alternatively, direct the use of video link-up to reduce the impact on the victim.
If a party is prohibited from directly cross examining a witness, a legal practitioner is required to conduct the cross examination on their behalf.
The Bill aims to ensure that the victim's evidence is not tainted by the distress they once associated with the relationship. It also encourages victims of domestic violence to pursue their legal entitlements, rather than settle their parenting or property proceedings unfavorably due to fear of proceeding to trial and having to be cross examined by the perpetrator.
If you are a victim of family violence, or you are engaged in family law proceedings where family violence may be an issue, we highly recommend obtaining advice from an experienced family lawyer to ensure you are advised of your legal entitlements and these new amendments. .
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.