Family violence is a large problem in Australia, and it continues to grow. When it comes to making parenting arrangements it is imperative that the best interest of the child is taken into account. So how can acts of family violence impact parenting arrangements and how can you get help? We’ll answer all of these questions below.
Defining Family Violence
The Family Law Act of 1975 defines family violence as:
“Violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful.”
Examples of family or domestic violence include but are not limited to:
- Assault (including sexually abusive behaviour or sexual assault)
- Damaging or intentionally destroying property
- Causing death to or intentionally injuring an animal
- Making repeated derogatory remarks or taunts
- Preventing said family member from forming meaningful connections
- Unlawfully depriving any member of the family of their liberty
The Risks of Exposing Children to Family Violence
There are numerous proven risks of exposing children to family violence that can have a big impact on parenting agreements. Research proves that children who have exposure to family violence are at a higher risk of having issues later in life, particularly when they reach their teenage years. A few of the documented risks include:
- Developing antisocial problems or depression such as delinquency or violent behaviours
- Developing difficulties controlling emotions
- Developing poor reading and language skills
- Developing poor relationships with one or both parents
- Having difficulties making and maintaining friendships
How Family Violence Impacts Parenting Arrangements
Australian law rules that children have a right to form meaningful relationships with both of their parents and stay safe from harm. They will attempt family dispute resolution first if it is safe to do so. If the parents can’t or won’t cooperate, the court may rule that co-parenting isn’t in the child’s best interests.
If this is the case, the court will rule in the child’s best interests. They will prioritise the child’s safety above all else. The court may decide that the child is better with one parent over the other. They may set up parenting plans for both parties that put the child’s healthy adjustment first.
Where to seek help
When you need help to provide the best quality care for your child, there are several places you can turn to for help. In NSW and Australia, these include: