Nov 13

Luke Batty’s Mum confronts Jo Hildebrand on family violence – Questions for the family law justice system

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Luke’s parents had separated, therefore, it is not inappropriate to inquire of those factors of the family law justice system, which Luke’s tragedy highlights.

The Family Law Act was amended in 2012 following the grievous murder of Darcey Freeman in 2009. Following these amendments, in simple terms, in cases where child abuse and family violence are raised, the Family Court must now give greater weight to child protection over a child’s meaningful relationship with both parents.

In family law litigation, the reality is that most matters initiated in the Court will settle, only a small number will run through to a fully contested final hearing. Settlement necessarily involves compromise and in some cases, capitulation.

Parties to family law litigation often feel inordinate economic, social, emotional, physical and psychological pressures to settle. This often comes about because their matter has dragged on for years and not just the parent, but also the children, extended family, new partners and loved ones have been dragged through the proceeedings. In such circumstances negotiated settlements made aganist the backdrop of these settlement forces may be contrary with meeting the best interests of the child whose welfare is under consideration.

The Commonwealth government has cut $30m from the budget of the Family Court. Arguably, a restoration, and indeed an increase in funding, will have a positive flow on effect to the goal of child protection. Increased funding may ease some pressure felt by one party in cases where child protection is a very serious factor. An increase in funding might see a reduction in transit times through the Court for such cases.

It would appear that this pathway is preferable to a proposal which results in the incarceration of the primary care giver of a child who has been abused.

Sometimes, allegations of child abuse and family violence are made up because one parent wants to try and discredit the other before the eyes of the Court.

At Family Law Legal we have experience in the conduct of matters where child protection issues are serious. We have experience in acting for client’s making the case for child abuse and family violence, and we have expereince acting for client’s defending such allegations. Please contact us to schedule a confidential and no obligation initial consultation.