Define Family Violence

In recent times the connection between Family Law and Family Violence has become a topic of considerable discussion and concern to the community. In 2011, the definition of Family Violence set out in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) was amended to include coercion and control and the definition of abuse amended to include the wording “serious psychological harm”.

Definition Of Family Violence

Today the definition of Family Violence as defined in Section 4AB (1) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is as follows:

…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.

Section 4AB (a) also provides a number of examples of behaviours which the Family Law Act considers constitutes family violence, as follows:

  • An assault; or
  • sexual assault or sexually abusive behaviours; or
  • Stalking; or
  • Repeated derogatory taunts; or
  • Intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
  • Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or
  • Unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; or
  • Unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support; or
  • Preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
  • Unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty.

These behaviours will constitute family violence if they are in the presence or hearing of a child or children.

Examples Of Family Violence

Family violence includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviours:

  • Overhearing threats of death or personal injury by a member of the child’s family towards another member of the child’s family;
  • Seeing or hearing an assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family;
  • Comforting or providing assistance to a member of the child’s family who has been assaulted by another member of the child’s family;
  • Cleaning up a site after a member of the child’s family has intentionally damaged property of another member of the child’s family;
  • Being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving the assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family.

As of 12 January 2015, the filing of a Notice of Risk Form in proceedings in which a party is seeking parenting Orders became a mandatory requirement of all parties. The Notice of Risk requires parties to set out any allegations of child abuse or family violence or other risks that require the Courts attention.


Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?


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