How do allegations of violence affect custody agreements?

Published 20 Jun 2019

Custody battles are not often a straightforward matter. However, these disputes are further complicated with accusations of family violence. Here, we explore how family violence allegations affect custody agreements, and what it may mean for the safety of the child concerned.

What is family violence?

Within the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) family violence is defined as violent or threatening behaviour by a person that coerces or controls family members, or causes them to fear for their safety. Children don't necessarily need to be harmed to be a victim of family violence - simply seeing or hearing the act is enough for a Court to consider them exposed.

How do allegations of violence affect custody agreements?

In many cases of divorce or split parenting, matters are generally handled and resolved prior to Court proceedings, with a hearing being a formality. When violence is in the mix, however, an award of custody is influenced.

Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) outlines that a Court needs to consider how a child would benefit from having a relationship with both parents. However, it also reiterates the importance of protecting the child from exposure to abuse, neglect or violence.

Legally, a Court will need to investigate any allegations of family violence as to not unwittingly place the child into a potentially dangerous living situation. If family violence is proven, such as through evidence of injury or historical charges, a Court will most likely revoke or grant limited custody to that parent. In some cases, this means the parent isn't allowed to visit the child without an independent party present, or visits may only take place at a designated meeting area.

It's vital that if anyone has any concerns for the safety of the concerned child that they tell the Court, so that this can be addressed as part of custody agreements. That being said, there have been cases where allegations of family violence have been used as a means of manipulating or swaying a Court decision.

At Malouf Solicitors, we understand the complexity and sensitivity of child custody agreements. We're happy to guide you through the legal process with full compassion, paired with our considerable experience in this area of law. If you believe that a Court's decision on custody is unfair to the well-being of your child, it's vital to get in touch with our legal team to support your case.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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