13 research outputs found

    “It’s Like Standing on a Beach, Holding Your Children’s Hands, and Having a Tsunami Just Coming Towards You”: Intimate Partner Violence and “Expert” Assessments in Australian Family Law

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    The ways in which postseparation parenting disputes are managed has undergone significant change in Australia since the Family Law Act (Cth) was first enacted in 1975. The best interests of children have always been paramount in children’s cases and over the last 20 years, this concept has been legislatively shaped to include ongoing beneficial post separation parental relationships and protection from harm. A critical piece of evidence to inform a Family Court’s decision making in such matters is a family report, which is an expert assessment compiled by a social science professional. The authors report findings from an Australian based qualitative study exploring the experiences of family report assessment practice from the perspective of victim mothers who have separated from men who perpetrate intimate partner violence. The authors conclude that reforms are necessary to improve the practice and procedure of family report writing in Australia. Such reforms should ensure that the lived experience of victims of intimate partner violence is validated, assessment processes have victim efficacy, and the outcomes of such reports do not put women and their children at ongoing risk of harm

    Beyond these walls. by Zoe Rathus

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    New moves in Queensland in the area of domestic violence are examined in this article

    'I didn’t have a chance': perceptions of the attitudes and roles of legal professionals for women involved in Hague international child abduction cases

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    Studies of lawyers and clients tend to be lawyer centric. How clients see lawyers-their own or those of other parties-is less emphasised. In this article we report the perspective of ten women who had been subject to a Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction process. The Convention was created to address removal of children from custodial mothers by non-custodial fathers and aims to ensure the safe return of children to their country of “habitual residence”. However, the Hague Convention process, and the lawyers and courts that administer it, do not adequately respond to situations where mothers are fleeing domestic and family violence with their children. The women we spoke with had all fled domestic and family violence and sought safety by returning to their own country. They had been subject to a Hague Convention process for the return of their child(ren) to the country and custody of their perpetrator and experienced an accusatory, uncaring, hostile legal profession. The women felt that the lawyers were motivated by moral assessments of them and their behaviour. The lawyers were seen as participating and continuing the violence as an agent of the perpetrator and the stat

    Being ‘Hagued’ : How weaponising the Hague Convention harms women, family and domestic violence survivors

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    This paper examines the experiences of women who have been ‘Hagued’: forced, through a court-facilitated process enabled by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to return children taken unlawfully across international borders. It considers how the convention, which lacks specific mechanisms to account for family and domestic violence, is weaponised against women fleeing such violence. It identifies three types of harm: further intimidation and abuse by an ex-partner through contact necessitated by court proceedings; punishment through a court system that positions the woman as a ‘child abductor’ and may engender adverse custody arrangements; and homelessness caused by lack of support structures, income and financial independence. Finally, it suggests improvements to reduce or avoid this harm

    Dislocated Lives : The experience of women survivors of family and domestic violence after being ‘Hagued’

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    This article reports on interviews with ten women who had experienced the legal process of the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the ‘Hague Convention’ or the ‘Convention’). We refer to that experience as being ‘Hagued’. All the women were subjected to a Hague return order after fleeing family and domestic violence perpetrated by their previous partner, because they fled with their children across international borders. Subsequently, all women were ordered to return their children to the country where their abusive previous partner lived. Nine out of the ten women also returned with their children. On return the women experienced further harms: they were vulnerable to, further intimidation and controlling behaviour from previous partners; they became homeless; and they felt punished in ordered from returning country’s courts through reduced contact and custody arrangements. The article concludes by suggesting if the Convention, the domestic implementation laws and ultimately the courts assessing return applications, placed greater emphasis and understanding on family and domestic violence, then the women interviewed probably would not have been ordered to return their children and they would not have experienced further post-Hague harm

    Good evidence, safe outcomes in parenting matters involving domestic violence? Understanding family report writing practice from the perspective of professionals working in the Family Law system

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    Introduction Cases involving families where there are allegations of domestic violence constitute a significant part of family court caseloads in Australia. Research undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that allegations of spousal violence occurred in over 51 per cent of litigated cases, with the figure rising to over 70 per cent of cases not judicially determined. These are complex and difficult cases often filled with allegations and counter-allegations. A critical piece of evidence often obtained in these cases is a family assessment report (a ‘family report’), which is prepared by a family consultant, usually a social worker or psychologist. A recent evaluation showed that family reports are increasingly being obtained in cases involving allegations of domestic violence or abuse, with a rise from one-third in the pre-reform cases reviewed to just over half post-reform. This suggests that family report writers have a critical role to play in how the family law system deals with allegations of domestic violence in parenting cases. However, Australian research in this area is currently limited. In this article, we report findings from a focus group study that formed part of an Australian pilot research project exploring family report writer practice in contexts of domestic violence

    Family reports and family violence in Australian family law proceedings: What do we know?

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    Family reports are critical documents in family parenting cases. They are often the only social science information available to the judge, the lawyers and the parties. They are influential in judicial decision-making and out-of-court negotiations. Despite their importance there has been little direct research about the quality and impact of family reports in Australia. It is also known that family violence is a common occurrence in parenting cases that progress to litigation, and therefore the kinds of cases in which family reports are ordered, but again this is an under-researched issue. This article presents foundational information about the existing research to identify what is known about family reports and family violence. It examines the legislative framework for family report writing and analyses the official guidelines and documents and informal information that provide context to this work. It considers what family report writers need to know and understand about family violence to write reports that deal appropriately with family violence and make safe recommendations. Australian and international research on family violence, its impact on parenting, its role in family law proceedings and its influence in family report writing is reviewed. The article concludes that Australian research in this area is required to contribute to improved practices in family reports.Full Tex
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