This information sheet contains important information for litigants who allege they have experienced, or are alleged to have perpetrated, family violence. This information is not a substitute for legal advice.

About Family Violence

Family violence means violent, threatening or other behaviour that coerces or controls a family member or causes them to be fearful (section 4AB Family Law Act 1975).

Protecting family members from violence and ensuring the safety of all people engaged in the family law system, including when attending Court, is a high priority for the Court.

Safety at Court

Parties concerned about their safety when attending Court events can contact the registry in which their matter is listed to arrange a Safety Plan prior to the listing.

Legal and Support Services at Court

The Family Advocacy & Support Service (FASS) is a free legal and support service to assist family law litigants who allege they have been affected by family violence. For more information about FASS, parties should contact the registry in which their matter is listed.

Cross-Examination

Division 4 of Part XI of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that, from 10 September 2019, unrepresented parties will not be permitted to personally cross-examine another party if there are allegations of family violence and:

  1. either party has been charged with or convicted with an offence involving violence or threat of violence involving the other party: s.102NA(1)(c)(i);
  2. a final Family Violence Order applies to both parties: s.102NA(1)(c)(ii);
  3. an injunction has been made under section 68B or section 114 of the Family Law Act for the personal protection of one party against another: s.102NA(1)(c)(iii); or
  4. the Court makes an order that personal cross-examination should not be permitted: s.102NA(1)(c)(iv).

In matters involving alleged family violence which do not fall into the above categories, the Court may permit personal cross-examination by an unrepresented party but must ensure alternative protections, such as cross-examination via video link, are implemented: s.102NB.

These provisions apply to all proceedings under the Family Law Act, not just parenting proceedings.

Parties who are not permitted to personally cross examine another party may retain private legal representation or apply to the Commonwealth Family Violence and Cross-Examination of Parties Scheme ('the Scheme') to obtain legal representation. The Scheme is not means or merits tested but applicants may be required to contribute to the cost of their representation. Applications are made through the relevant State or Territory Legal Aid Commission. All applications to the Scheme must be made at least 12 weeks prior to the final hearing.

Further information is contained on the Court’s website: www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au