Dealing with family violence during a divorce case or at any other time can be confusing and emotional for everyone involved. Recently, the judges of Australia began consulting a new guide "The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book". If you are in the midst of a case involving domestic or family violence, you may be wondering how this new guide may affect you.
1. The guide helps to create consistency.
One of the issues with law cases involving family violence is that there are a lot of discrepancies in the law from area to area. In addition, there have historically been a lot of discrepancies depending on the judge hearing the case. This guide hopes to eliminate many of those issues. Its goal is to smooth out those differences and make dealing with domestic violence issues more uniform.
If you are consulting with a family lawyer about a domestic violence case, the introduction of this book in the courtroom could make the case more predictable. Ultimately, that could help the lawyer identify the most effective ways forward, as he or she is likely to know more about what to expect from the bench.
2. Judges can still set family violence orders.
The book is simply designed to guide judges while they are on the bench. It doesn't actually change the law. For example, if you are in the midst of a divorce and your ex is physically abusive, you can ask the judge to issue a family violence order.
This order prevents one partner from getting a certain distance from the other partner. However, this ban on contact can be lifted in certain occasions. For example, a judge might create a family violence order that prevents your ex husband or wife from coming near you, unless you are exchanging the custody of your children, attending counselling sessions or going to resolution meetings. Similarly, the new guide also does not stop judges from issuing child protection orders.
3. The guide educates judges about risk factors for serious murder or violence.
In addition to helping to create consistency while still allowing judges to use the tools already at their disposals, the new bench guide on domestic violence also educates judges a bit more about domestic violence. In particular, the guide contains information on risk factors related to serious violence or even murder.
These risk factors vary a lot, and sometimes, they can be surprising. For example, if your partner has tried to strangle you in the past or if he or she has stalked you in the past, those can be risk factors linked to more serious violence. Additionally, if one of you has children from another relationship, those stepchildren have also been linked to the progression of violence.
As a result, during a trial, you may be asked more questions about risk factors, and the judge may be more likely to order family violence orders or protection orders if these risk factors are in play.
4. The guide is designed for more people than just judges.
Although the "The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book" was created to help judges navigate the cases concerning family violence. The book can also be used by others as well. Namely, any professionals including family lawyers and other service providers can turn to this book. Ideally, they will get the education and information they need to help families through these issues and to refer people to the right assistance programs.
If you are in a situation involving family violence, this new book may help improve your experiences through the court systems. To learn more, contact a family lawyer.