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

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.

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 16 Dec 2015: Advance online publication
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.

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 dipute 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.

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. 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.

Family dispute resolution and family violence in the family law system.

Evers M
Current Family Law v. 14 no. 3 Dec 2009: 149-157
Under the current family law system in Australia, it is compulsory for separating parents to attempt family dispute resolution (FDR) prior to taking their parenting dispute to court. There is an exemption for family violence. However, this article will argue that there are several reasons why many victims of violence undertake FDR. Due to a number of well-documented concerns with FDR in the context of family violence, it is imperative that FDR service providers effectively respond to clients affected by family violence. Specific policies and practices are outlined that can enhance the safety of clients and their children.

Family dispute resolution services in Legal Aid Commissions: evaluation report

KPMG (Australia), Australia. Attorney-General's Dept.
Canberra, A.C.T. : Attorney-General's Dept., 2008
This evaluation report presents findings on the effectiveness of family dispute resolution (FDR) services in legal aid commissions throughout Australia. The evaluation looked at: the role of commissions in the new family law context; screening and intake; focus on the best interests of the child; inclusion of extended family; management of family violence, child protection and power imbalance; availability of appropriate FDR services for people with special needs; satisfaction with FDR services; quality improvement; and relative cost effectiveness as compared to litigation. It report also presents recommendations for a framework to facilitate ongoing program development.

Domestic violence: a tale of two Margarets.

Charlton R
Law Society Journal v. 46 no. 3 Apr 2008 42-43
The changes brought about by the Shared Parental Responsibility Act 2006 in relation to dispute resolution between separating parents has prompted concerns that clients with violent partners are being coerced or pressured into mediation by their solicitors, and that any agreement made in such circumstances is not a genuinely negotiated agreement between equal parties. This article argues that, under the Act, a parent need not participate in family dispute resolution where there has been violence in the relationship.

Behind closed doors: family dispute resolution and family violence.

Kirkwood D
Collingwood, Vic : Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, 2007
Under the new family law system in Australia it is compulsory for separating parents to attempt family dispute resolution prior to taking their parenting dispute to court, and Family Relationship Centres have been established to provide this service. The main benefits of family mediation is that it is cheaper, quicker, and less adversarial than court processes. However, one disadvantage is the potential for intimidation, power imbalance, and safety threats in cases where family violence is present. Though there are exemptions for such cases, the screening and discretionary processes may be insufficient. This paper advises professionals of the potential risks, and discusses screening and intervention strategies, such as safety planning, specialised formats, and advocacy.

Behind closed doors : family dispute resolution and family violence

Kirkwood D
Collingwood, Vic. : Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, 2007.

Snapshots from the Family Relationship Centres album.

Caruana C
Family Matters no. 77 2007: 33-38
Family Relationship Centres (FRC) offer information, advice, and mediation to people with relationship difficulties, and those starting or ending relationships. They are a major part of the 2006 family law reform in Australia, with 65 Centres scheduled to be operational by July 2008. This article profiles several of the Centres and includes interviews with Gai Campbell, Paula Washington, and Steve Hackett - FRC clinicians and managers from Ringwood in Victoria, Townsville in Queensland, and Penrith in New South Wales. They describe the Centres' services, clients, typical processes, and any allegations of family violence.

Implications for family dispute resolution practice: response to the 'Allegations of family violence and child abuse in family law children's proceedings' report.

Bikerdike A
Family Matters no. 77 2007: 20-25
This article discusses allegations of family violence in cases presenting to family dispute resolution (FDR) services, and the procedural challenges these present. Just like the high prevalence of allegations in court cases - as examined by the research report 'Allegations of family violence and child abuse in child-related disputes in family law proceedings' - FDR services face increasing numbers of violence-affected clients, many of whom will enter the court system. The article discusses service provision; quality assurance; assessing allegations; the use of FDR prior to court; adversarial courts versus the FDR process - 'allegation' versus 'disclosure'; client outcomes; and practitioner neutrality versus advocacy.
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