Family dispute resolution and domestic violence

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Family dispute resolution and domestic violence in the AIFS library catalogue

If you want a picture of the future, imagine mandated pre-action procedures, registrar case management and information sharing.

Harman J
Family Law Review v. 7 no. 3 2018: 179-195
There are significant delays and a fast increasing workload in the family law system in Australia, prompting much media comment and a newly appointed review. This article considers what immediately available and practical solutions could be introduced into the Federal Circuit Court to address some of the underlying difficulties, to see a dramatic impact with only with only minimal resourcing or legislative change. It looks at pre-action and pre-filing procedures, the role of registrars in case management, the use of privately funded dispute resolution, and information sharing and co-location of services in cases involving family violence.

Screening for partner violence among family mediation clients : differentiating types of abuse.

Cleak H, Schofield M, Axelsen L and Bickerdike A
Journal of Interpersonal Violence v. 33 no. 7 Apr 2018: 1118-1146
Though mediation for couples in dispute over separation and parenting is not mandatory in cases of family violence, screening instruments are still at an early phase of development. This article examines the reliability and validity of some new and established scales for measuring intimate partner violence, as part of a larger study of clients attending family mediation centres in Victoria. The associations between types of abuse and other relationship indicators such as acrimony and parenting alliance are also examined, as well as the prevalence of different types of abuse among the client group. Most clients disclosed a history of at least one type of violence by their partner: 95% reported psychological aggression, 72% controlling and jealous behaviour, 50% financial control, and 35% physical assault. The implications for practice and research are also discussed.

A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence: recommendations for an accessible, equitable and responsive family law system which better prioritises safety of those affected by family violence

Henderson S
Canberra : Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2017.
In March 2017, the Attorney-General commissioned an inquiry into how Australia's federal family law system can better support and protect people affected by family violence. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry, and advocates for an accessible, equitable, and responsive family law system which better prioritises the safety of families. Chapters include: Overview of the family law system; Challenges of current system; A new family law system; Property division and financial recovery; Matters involving children; Families with additional needs; Strengthening the capacity of family law professionals; and Ongoing support services.

A review of the literature on family dispute resolution and family violence : identifying best practice and research objectives for the next 10 years.

Dobinson S and Gray R
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 30 no. 3 May 2017: 180-204
Since 2006, parties to post-separation parenting disputes have been required to attempt family dispute resolution (FDR) before proceeding to court. While exemptions are available for cases involving family violence, research indicates that many parties to FDR have experienced violence in their relationships. Considerable effort has gone into developing best practice for these cases, yet difficulties in service delivery remain. As a leading service provider, Relationships Australia NSW undertook a comprehensive review of available literature with the aim of contributing to the development of best practice across the sector. Findings indicate that while there is consensus on several aspects of best practice, there remain numerous barriers. In this article, we discuss the effect of these barriers on best practice and highlight areas for further research. In doing so, we take stock of developments since 2006 and propose objectives for the next 10 years.

Family law in Australia.

Young L, Sifris A, Carroll R and Monahan G
Chatswood, N.S.W. : LexisNexis Butterworths, 2016.
This book examines the social, historical, and legal context of the family law system in Australia and discusses recent changes. Chapters are: Law, society and the family; Dispute resolution in family law; Violence and abuse; Constitutional powers and the family courts; Marriage and de facto relationships; Nullity, divorce and termination of de facto relationships; Parentage; Child related disputes: the legislative framework; Children and parents: the exercise of discretion in reallocating parental responsibility; Financial support of married and de facto partners; Financial support of children; and 4 chapters on property proceedings: preliminary issues, the legislative framework, the exercise of the discretion, and specific issues.

One way or many ways : screening for family violence in family mediation.

Cleak H and Bickerdike A
Family Matters no. 98 2016: 16-25
Research suggests that screening for family violence among mediation clients has not been very effective, and there is also significant disagreement as to what constitutes best practice for screening in this context. This article discusses the research on these issues, including family law reforms to address family violence, the prevalence of allegations of family violence among separating families, opportunities for and facilitating disclosure, barriers to disclosure, approaches to screening in mediation, Australian and international screening tools, prevalence and severity of partner violence among clients, and needed screening and risk assessment processes.

Are we actually doing more for families affected by family and domestic violence?

Lee J
CFCA short article - Practitioner's Corner series 2 Mar 2016
A recent study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies revealed that families affected by abuse were much more likely to approach services such as counselling and mediation. But what happens after these families approach these services? Does the presence of family and domestic violence make a difference to service response? Do providers actually do more for these families? This article briefly describes research from Relationships Australia South Australia on whether their universal screening procedures detect at-risk families, whether such families were referred to additional support services, and whether these families actually access these additional services.

Family law principles.

Harland A, Cooper D, Rathus Z and Alexander R
Pyrmont, N.S.W. : Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia, 2015.
This text book on family law focuses on issues of practice. Chapters include: the many meanings of family and family law; family court and jurisdictions; marriage, nullity and divorce; the family law dispute resolution system; legislative obligations in family dispute resolution; violence in the family; parenthood, parentage an parental responsibility; children and the family law act; relocation of children; family violence and child abuse in parenting cases; expert evidence and the role of social science in family law; alteration of property interests; advanced property topics; financial aspects of de facto and other formalised relationships; maintenance; financial support for children: child maintenance and child support; family lawyers: ethics and values; international family law issues; Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Australian family law in context : commentary and materials.

Parkinson P
Pyrmont, N.S.W. : Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia, 2015.
This text book for law students examines the operation of family law in Australia. Featuring notes and questions for discussion, it examines the context of families and family law, the resolution of family disputes, the formation and dissolution of marriage, economic aspects of relationship breakdown, and children in family law.

Collaborative practice in family law matters with coercive control-type family violence : preliminary thoughts from the practitioner coalface.

Easteal P, Herbert J and Kennedy J
Family Law Review v. 5 no. 1 Apr 2015: 13-33
This article investigates whether collaborative practice - the new dispute resolution approach in family law - is also appropriate in matters involving coercive control by partners. It reviews the Australian and overseas literature and interviews a small sample of lawyers about their experiences using collaborative practice, including issues in screening, power imbalances, and potential benefits and risks.

Appropriate dispute resolution in cases of family violence and the collaborative practice model.

Markwick K
Family Law Review v. 5 no. 1 Apr 2015: 4-12
This article argues that a collaborative practice model approach can improve responses to cases involving family violence. It discusses the features of this model as applied to family law disputes, the inadequacies of the current litigation approach, the limitations of mediation, and how a collaborative practice model can address these issues.

Australian family law : the contemporary context

Fehlberg B, Kaspiew R, Millbank J, Behrens J and Kelly F
South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press, 2015.
This text book aims to encourage critical thinking and a wide understanding of family law in Australia today. Chapters include: structural fragmentation: the constitutional framework; mechanics of fragmentation: the jurisdictional framework; the legal recognition of family relationships; family violence; introduction to parenting disputes; processes for resolving parenting disputes; legal framework for resolving parenting disputes; specific issues in parenting disputes; introduction to financial disputes; child support; processes for resolving property disputes; legal framework for resolving property disputes; specific issues in property disputes; and maintenance for spouses and de facto partners.

Inconsistencies in and the inadequacies of the family counselling and FDR confidentiality and admissability provisions : the need for reform.

Cooper D
Family Law Review v. 4 no. 4 Dec 2014: 213-226
This article examines issues of admissability and confidentiality in family dispute resolution (FDR) cases. Issues include whether admissions of child abuse or threats of violence can be used in court proceedings under the Family Law Act, and balancing professional integrity with the safety of family members.

Post-separation parenting, property and relationship dynamics after five years

Qu L, Weston R, Moloney L, Kaspiew R and Dunstan J
Canberra : Attorney-General's Dept., 2014
The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families examines the experiences, circumstances, and wellbeing of separated parents and their children in Australia. It was commissioned as part of the evaluation of the 2006 Family Law reforms, and three waves of surveys have now been conducted. This current report presents findings from wave 3, conducted in 2012 with 9,028 parents five years after separation. It explores the opinions and experiences of separated parents regarding: quality of inter-parental relationships; child-focused communication between parents; safety concerns and violence and abuse; use and perceived helpfulness of family law services; pathways for developing parenting arrangements; family dispute resolution; stability and change in care-time arrangements; property division and their timing and perceived fairness; and child support arrangements and compliance. The report also asks parents about their child's wellbeing, and compares this with care-time arrangements and family dynamics.

Family violence and family law : where to now?

Sifris A and Parker A
Family Law Review v. 4 no. 1 Apr 2014: 3-24
The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and other Measures Act) 2011 (Cth) introduced a number of amendments to the Family Law Act 11975 (Cth) relating to the manner in which courts exercising jurisdiction under the Act should deal with cases involving family violence and child abuse. This article examines these reforms, including the context in which they took place. It then argues that while the reforms are significant and will go some way towards improving the family law system's response to victims of violence and abuse, further reform is required. In particular, it is argued that if the family law system is to respond adequately to the high incidence of violence and abuse within separated families, provisions in the Family Law Act which treat family violence as an exception to the norm must be amended.

Families with complex needs : meeting the challenges of separation.

Kaspiew R, De Maio J, Deblaquiere J and Horsfall B
Hayes, Alan, ed. Higgins, Daryl J., ed. Families, policy and the law : selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia. Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014. 9781922038487: 215-224
This chapter identifies some of the main challenges pertinent to program development in relation to family law parenting disputes. As the evidence base about the families who use family law system services has expanded in recent years, it has become clear that better ways of meeting complex needs are required. Families that have the most need for services are those affected by issues such as family violence, child safety, mental illness and substance abuse. The evidence highlights the need for holistic, multidisciplinary responses in meeting the needs of these families, whose engagement with the system often requires solutions that address both legal and psychosocial issues in parenting disputes. This analysis draws on evidence from a recently released evaluation of the Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR) pilot program to reflect on the service requirements of families with complex needs and the challenges in meeting them.

Separation: a guide for women.

Women's Legal Service (Brisbane, Qld.)
Annerley Qld. : Women's Legal Service Inc., 2013.
This online book provides an overview of legal information for women in Queensland who are considering or who have separated from their partner. It discusses where to get support and advice, issues about leaving home, domestic violence and protection orders, children and custody, child support, property settlements and maintenance, divorce applications, and mediation and dispute resolution. The book concludes with contact details for relevant Queensland services and agencies.

Centralising children's needs in dispute resolution in family violence cases.

Shea Hart A
Children Australia v. 38 no. 4 Dec 2013: 178-183
Family separation is a unique and dynamic process for each family. Family violence is a serious problem affecting societies across the world. It is a common driver for family dissolution. Children exposed to family violence face a distinctive predicament in their own adjustment, recovery and future relationships with their parents. Family dispute resolution is an increasing early intervention approach for separated families in conflict over parenting. Family dispute resolution practitioners are the gatekeepers for facilitating or preventing exploration of information about the complex relational dynamics, including risk and protective factors in each individual case. To avoid gambling with the child's future, it is crucial to centralise the needs of each individual child. An intervention approach to potentially enhance outcomes for the child, and therefore longer term outcomes for community and society, is child inclusive practice. However, this is not without complexity and challenges in cases of family violence.

Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution : findings and future directions.

Kaspiew R, Lewington M, Lynch A and Field R
29 October 2013
Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR) was a pilot program applied in parenting cases where there was a history of family violence. The evaluation of the pilot, conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, highlighted a number of challenges arising in the context of multi-disciplinary, multi-agency practice with a complex client group. This webinar will examine learnings for practice from the empirical evaluation evidence. The webinar will also address justifications for the CFDR model, and whether there is an ongoing need for it in the family law system. Practical ideas that can be transferred from a CFDR environment to be implemented in family dispute resolution more generally will also be explored.

Family Support Program literature review: research into the Family Support Program - family law services

Brown T, Batagol B and Sourdin T
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, Monash University, 2012.
The Australian Government's Family Support Program consists of a range of preventative and early intervention services, which legal services such as Family Relationship Centres, family dispute resolution, children's contact services, and relationship advice lines. As part of a broader study, this report reviews the literature on the effectiveness of government-run family law services in Australia as well as best practice in service delivery and performance measurement. Specifically, it investigates: the range of available interventions and services, usage by people from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds and effectiveness in meeting their needs (including people experiencing family violence and Indigenous people), use of technology to deliver services and improving non-face-to-face service delivery, appropriateness of performance and quality measurement arrangements, meeting the needs of families who are in conflict or separating, and meeting the best interests of children.

Australian family law in context : commentary and materials

Parkinson P
Pyrmont, N.S.W. : Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia, 2012.
This text book for law students examines the operation of family law in Australia. Featuring notes and questions for discussion, it examines the context of families and family law in Australia, laws concerning marriage and cohabitation, the economic aspects of relationship breakdown, and issues concerning children. Chapters include: what is family?; family forms and family behaviours; the historical context; the theoretical context; the constitutional context; the family courts; dispute resolution in family law; family lawyers and professional ethics; family violence; marriage, nullity and divorce; the economic context; child support; maintenance; private ordering of property distribution and maintenance; property under the Family Law Act; discretion and process in matrimonial disputes under the Family Law Act; property and the rights of third parties; de facto and domestic relationships: powers under statute; children's rights and best interests; parenthood; children and relationship breakdown - the psychological context; parenting orders; and children's matters - particular kinds of disputes.

The inclusion of children in family dispute resolution in Australia : balancing welfare versus rights principles.

Henry P and Hamilton K
International Journal of Children's Rights v. 20 no. 4 Oct 2012: 584-602
This article investigates the impact of the direct participation of children in family separation mediation cases in Australia, drawing on a study of children and parents. It concludes that child inclusive practices must balance the right of children to be heard with the need for children to be protected in cases of family violence or conflict.

Evaluation of a pilot of legally assisted and supported family dispute resolution in family violence cases: final report

Kaspiew R, De Maio J, Deblaquiere J and Horsfall B
Canberra, A.C.T. : Attorney-General's Dept., 2012.
Parenting disputes involving issues of family violence are particularly challenging in legal proceedings. The Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution model was developed to provide a safe, non-adversarial, and child-sensitive means for parents to sort out their post-separation parenting disputes. The model is being trialled in five sites across Australia. This report presents an evaluation of the model, examining whether the model addresses practitioner and family safety during the program, safe parenting arrangements, the best interests of children, and power imbalances between parents. The evaluation also examines challenges and advantages due to the interdisciplinary nature of the model.

Indigenous Australians & family law litigation: Indigenous perspectives on access to justice

Ralph S
Canberra, A.C.T. : Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, 2011
This report explores the views of Indigenous Australians on going to court over family law disputes, and compares their experiences with those of non-Indigenous Australians. Surveys and interviews were conducted with 36 Indigenous Australians and 54 non-Indigenous people from several sites around Australia, regarding their demographic characteristics, stage of litigation, use of an Independent Children's Lawyer or self representation, use of family dispute resolution or other services prior to the commencement of proceedings, satisfaction with family dispute resolution, reasons for the failure of dispute resolution, reasons for going to court, satisfaction with court customer service, satisfaction with the court agreement made - at the time and again now, factors contributing to reaching an agreement during the court case - such as legal advice or lack of money, fairness and thoroughness of judicial decision making, and court handling and assessment of Indigenous cultural issues. The views of legal practitioners working with Indigenous clients are also discussed. The report concludes with recommendations for professional training, court support services, and information systems.

Family law and the indissolubility of parenthood

Parkinson P
New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Even though marriage is now dissoluble, parenthood is not. This book examines this conflict, with focus on divorce and separation laws in Australia and overseas. Topics include: family law and gender conflict; divorce reform and child custody and allocation; redefining parenthood after separation; the demise of sole custody; the move towards shared parenting; issues of violence and abuse; the relocation dilemma; mediation and family dispute resolution as alternatives to litigation; child support and the obligations of parenthood; spousal support and the feminisation of poverty; and the towards new policies for postseparation families.

Promising practice in family dispute resolution : Northern Beaches Family Relationship Centre, Sydney.

Wilcox K
Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse Newsletter no. 42 Spring 2010: 10-11
This article describes the key features of family dispute resolution services at the Northern Beaches Family Relationship Centre in Sydney, New South Wales. Their approach models good practice in working with victims of domestic violence on post-separation parenting arrangements. The article outlines their holistic services, staffing and professional development, philosophies, interagency collaboration, and risk assessment and screening pathways.

Parenting dynamics after separation: a follow-up study of parents who separated after the 2006 family law reforms

Qu L and Weston R
Canberra, A.C.T. : Attorney-General's Dept., 2010
The Longitudinal Study of Separated Families examines relationships and wellbeing in separated families in Australia. Some 10,000 separated parents with children were interviewed for the first wave in 2008, as part of the evaluation of the 2006 Family Law reforms. This current report presents findings from the second wave, now the parents have been separated for two to three years. The study investigates parenting issues including communication between parents, abuse and safety concerns, the development of parenting arrangements, the use of family dispute resolution services, changes in child care arrangements, involvement in decision making, and child support and compliance. The study also examines the effect of these issues on child wellbeing. The report discusses the findings and the changes that have occurred over time, as well as the methodology of the study. Though most respondents maintained a harmonious relationship with the other parent, there are still reports of conflict, fear, and family violence.

Mandatory dispute resolution and the 2006 family law reforms : use, outcomes, links to other pathways, and the impact of family violence.

Moloney L, Qu L, Hand K, De Maio J, Kaspiew R, Weston R and Gray M
Journal of Family Studies v. 16 no. 3 Dec 2010: 192-196
Community-based mandatory family dispute resolution (more generically known as family mediation) is a central plank of the 2006 changes to the Australian family law system. This paper provides an overview of the data on family dispute resolution from the Australian Institute of Family Studies' evaluation of the 2006 changes. It reports on usage rates of family dispute resolution as well as immediate and medium term outcomes, perceived pathways towards resolution and the impact of family violence on both outcomes and pathways. Though the story is a generally positive one, the data also suggest a need for family relationship sector practitioners and family lawyers to engage proactively in assisting those families who are experiencing significant violence and or significant levels of ongoing serious conflict.

Family violence - a national legal response: final report

Australian Law Reform Commission, New South Wales. Law Reform Commission
Sydney : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2010.
In April 2009, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General called for the Australian Law Reform Commission, working jointly with the NSW Law Reform Commission, to investigate the interpretation and application of laws relating to family violence, sexual assault, and child protection across the various states and territories in Australia. The final report of the Commission's findings was released in October 2010. This report describes the background of the Inquiry and the framework for reform, and presents the final 187 recommendations put forward in the final report in the areas of jurisdiction, criminal law, police, bail, protection orders, sentencing, homicide defences, evidence, child protection, family dispute resolution, confidentiality, sexual assault, reporting and pre-trial processes in sexual offences, information sharing, integration, and specialisation.

Evaluation of the 2006 family law reforms

Kaspiew R, Gray M, Weston R, Moloney L, Hand K and Qu L
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, c2009.
In 2006, the Australian Government introduced a series of changes to the family law system and increased funding for new and expanded family relationships services, including the establishment of 65 Family Relationship Centres. The reforms aimed to bring about a cultural shift in the management of separation, away from litigation and towards co-operative parenting. A study was commissioned to evaluate the impact of the changes and the reform's effectiveness in achieving its policy aims. This report presents the findings of this evaluation, which drew upon 3 projects: the Legislation and Courts Project (LCP), which examined the implementation of the legislative reforms; the Service Provision Project (SPP), which examined changes to the service delivery system; and the Families Project (FP), which examined the experiences of separated families. These projects involved a longitudinal study of 10,000 separated parents, two quantitative studies based on general samples of parents, analysis of data from 1,724 pre- and post-reform court files, and surveys with professionals, clients, and grandparents. Chapters include: Characteristics of separated parents: challenges and issues for family relationships and wellbeing; Use and effectiveness of new and expanded family relationship services; Pathways towards parenting arrangements; Family dispute resolution; Care-time arrangements: community opinions, prevalence and durability of different arrangements, and trends across the years; Care-time arrangements: negotiations and family profiles; Parental responsibility: decision-making about issues affecting the child and financial support; Parental responsibility and time: perspectives and practices of lawyers and other service providers; Family violence and child abuse: parents' pathways and professionals' perspectives; Children's wellbeing; Grandparenting and the family law reforms; The 2006 reforms and the courts; The implementation of Division 12A of Part VII: principles for conducting child-related proceedings; the application of the SPR Act 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act 1975; Summary of key findings and conclusions.
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