Mental health and family law

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 Mental health and family law in the AIFS library catalogue

Children and relationship factors.

Alexander R
Australian master family law guide. 7th ed. Sydney : CCH Australia, 2015. 9781925091281: 279-316
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. This chapter reviews common issues that may rise in children's matters before the family court and in dispute resolution. It provides advice on taking instructions and questioning clients, and reviews the legal implications of gambling, parental drug use, mental health issues, family violence, child abuse, and parental alienation syndrome.

Children and relationship factors.

Alexander R
Australian master family law guide. 6th ed. Sydney : CCH Australia, 2013. 9781922042996: 277-312
This chapter reviews common issues that may rise in children's matters before the family court and in dispute resolution. It provides advice on taking instructions and questioning clients, and reviews the legal implications of gambling, parental drug use, mental health issues, family violence, child abuse, and parental alienation syndrome.

'Just say goodbye': parents who kill their children in the context of separation

Kirkwood D
Collingwood, Vic. : Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, 2012.
This paper looks at why separated parents kill their children. Drawing on Australian case studies, local statistics, and international research, it reviews background factors, causal factors, motives of anger and revenge, gender differences, and improving family law system responses. Chapters include: Homicide in families: a gendered pattern; What we know about filicide; 'Suffer for the rest of your life': fathers who kill children in the context of separation; 'Better off dead': mothers who kill children in the context of separation; and Shining some light in the dark.

What about me? Self care for workers in the family law context : Conference report.

Eberle R
Family Relationships Quarterly no. 18 2011: 20
One of the benefits of cross-disciplinary networks such as Family Law Pathways Networks is that they can address issues of concern to practitioners who, although working with families in diverse ways, are faced with similar professional and personal challenges. This is particularly so for family lawyers who, as a profession, do not have a tradition of structured supervision and de-briefing. The Albury-Wodonga Family Law Pathways Network conducted a one-day conference in mid-2010 that explored the issues of worker burnout, stress and vicarious trauma in the family law context. This report gives a brief insight into the day.

Family violence: key findings from the 'Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms'.

Kaspiew R, Gray M, Weston R, Moloney L, Hand K and Qu L
Family Matters no. 85 2010: 38-48
The Australian Institute of Family Studies 'Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms' in 2009 found that one of the central challenges facing the family law system is family violence. A substantial minority of separated parents reported having experienced physical violence, and over half reported having experienced emotional or physical violence. The data collected as part of the AIFS evaluation highlighted the difficulties faced by those working in the family law system (service system professionals, lawyers, court staff and judicial officers) when working with families affected by family violence. This article summarises the main points that arose from the evaluation. Challenging issues include identifying whether there is family violence, the nature of the violence, whether it is ongoing and the most appropriate responses. Dealing with family violence in the family law context is difficult because of its prevalence in separating families, combined with the fact that there is often little or no evidence because most family violence occurs behind 'closed doors', without witnesses. It is also difficult because a parent may be too frightened of their ex-partner to tell anyone about the violence, let alone a court.

The scientific basis of child custody decisions

Galatzer-Levy R, Kraus L and Galatzer-Levy J
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2009.

Child and relationship factors.

Alexander R
Australian master family law guide. 3rd ed. Sydney : CCH Australia, 2009. 9781921593239: 265-292
This chapter looks at issues that may arise in children's matters at all levels of problem solving and dispute resolution, including child abuse, domestic violence, false allegations, parental alienation syndrome, drug use, presceription drugs, mental illness, gambling, special needs of children and theories relating to bonding and attachment, overnight stays and parenting arrangements. The chapter must be read in combination with other chapters in Part B of this book on children.

Shared parenting : public perception vs legislative reality : our role in making it work for children.

Tucker A
13th National Family Law Conference handbook Melbourne, Vic Television Education Network 2008: 163-167
A post-separation parenting arrangement that is too demanding can put an enduring stress on children's development and pose risks to their future. This paper discusses shared parenting responsibility in the context of children's development and the avoidance of enduring stress. It emphasises the promotion of a neutral if not positive co-parenting relationship as a determinant of children's mental health, and considers the role of the legal system in ensuring a successful shared parenting arrangement that will not be detrimental to the child's development.

Children and relationship factors.

Alexander R
In: Australian master family law guide. Sydney, NSW: CCH Australia, 1st ed., 2007, p245-271
Particular issues often arise in family law concerning children, in matters before the court and in legal practitioners' advice, negotiations, mediation, dispute resolution and litigation. The following issues that may arise in children's matters are considered in this chapter: child abuse; domestic violence; drug use; mental illness; gambling; special needs of children and various theories as to parenting, bonding and attachment; overnight stays and parenting arrangements.

Proceedings of the International Forum on Family Relationships in Transition : legislative, practical and policy responses, 1-2 December 2005

Smyth B, Richardson N and Soriano G
Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2006.
The recent reforms to the Family Law Act are the most extensive changes to family law in the last 30 years. The papers in these proceedings cover: the proposed reforms and the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court; the United States experience; the Canadian experience; father inclusive practice; programs, strategies, resources and practices for separating families; child focused practices; the New Zealand experience; perspectives from Vietnam, Singapore, China, Indonesia and Malaysia; safety issues and mental health issues; the role of the law; and accessing the family law system. Most papers have been selected for individual indexing.

Mental health and family law: a question of degree.

Ryan J
Federal Judicial Scholarship 2006: Article 2
Separation and divorce rank among life's most traumatic experiences and people who are vulnerable to mental illnesses appear reasonably frequently in family law courts. This paper discusses the applicable law for determination of cases involving mental illness including practice and procedure.

Safety issues, mental health issues and the family law system - panel discussion : opening remarks.

Cashmore J
Smyth, Bruce, ed. Richardson, Nick, ed. Soriano, Grace, ed. Proceedings of the International Forum on Family Relationships in Transition : legislative, practical and policy responses, 1-2 December 2005. Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2006. 0642395403: 229-230
This panel session focuses on some of the most difficult issues that the family law system has to grapple with: family violence (including allegations of abuse and neglect, and violence between the parents) and mental health problems (including mental illness and disorders, and substance abuse). These opening remarks introduce the themes of the session and the papers presented, which are: Barriers to meeting the needs of victims of domestic violence in the family law system, by Juliet Behrens; The Columbus program in Western Australia, by David Monaghan; Mental health and the family law system, by Bryan Rodgers; and Family violence: Policy and legislative framework, by Rajen Prasad.

Mental health and the family law system.

Rodgers B
Smyth, Bruce, ed. Richardson, Nick, ed. Soriano, Grace, ed. Proceedings of the International Forum on Family Relationships in Transition : legislative, practical and policy responses, 1-2 December 2005. Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2006. 0642395403: 238-241
Some mental health issues, such as parental mental health and substance abuse, are not dealt with in the family law system. This paper argues that mental health has a pivotal role in the family law system. It discusses the relationship between mental health and family separation and looks at ways in which emotional distress is dealt with in the family law system.

Mental health and family law: a question of degree.

Ryan J
Melbourne, Vic: Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, 2006, 11p, Online
Separation and divorce rank among life's most traumatic experiences and people who are vulnerable to mental illnesses appear reasonably frequently in family law courts. This paper discusses the applicable law for determination of cases involving mental illness including practice and procedure. It covers treatment of people with mental illness in the courts, legal capacity, application for a substitute decision maker, mental illness and the Family Law Act, the best interests principle, how a court determines a child's best interests, how a court obtains mental health evidence, how a court responds to improvements in the mental health of a parent, and some case examples involving mental illness.

Mental health and the family law system.

Rodgers B, Smyth B and Robinson E
Journal of Family Studies v. 10 no. 1 Apr 2004 50-70
Mental health issues permeate the family law system - at least according to anecdote. Yet such issues are rarely mentioned in family law research, policy, and practice. This article aims to stimulate discussion about the sometimes close and complex links between mental health issues and family law, and suggests a framework for how the family law system might provide better emotional support to families in transition.

Mental health and changing families.

Robinson E
12-14 February 2003
This project is examining the family law system and how well it responds to people who are dealing with mental health issues/mental illness. A range of material has been collected from various sources that deals with family breakdown separation (personal communication with services, organisations and consumers; hard copy and electronic information and resources). Knowledge of or reference to mental health issues/mental illness varies considerably, and many complex and interacting forces govern the way that such issues are dealt with. A great deal of stigma, misinformation and ignorance still surrounds mental illness and affects service provision within the system. This paper will consider some of the challenges raised by these difficulties and possible solutions/areas for further work.

Property division in favour of a mentally ill person.

Dickey A
Australian Law Journal v. 76 no. 11 Nov 2002 671-672
In the Family Law column of this issue, the author discusses the case In the Marriage of Sterling and Sterling (2000), in which a property claim was made on behalf of a mentally ill woman against her husband whilst their marriage was intact. The author considers whether a property order or a maintenance order was the appropriate action in this case and whether, in the latter case, the order should be for a lump sum or for periodic maintenance.

Parenting, personality and the Family Court.

Waters B
Australian Family Lawyer v. 13 no. 4 Winter 1999 1-2,4-5
Referring to research findings which lead to the conclusion that there is something about parents whose affairs ultimately arrive at the door of the Family Court which is associated with an increased risk of a variety of mental health problems in the parents and in the children, the author of this article explores the type of mental health problems these parents might have. He discusses the relevance of the distinction between mental illness and personality disorders to the family law context, and explains why, as a general rule, mental disorders which have an intermittent course are less likely to impair parenting than are mental disorders which have a course of continuous disability. The phenomenon called assortative mating - that like marries like - is discussed, as is the question whether genes play some role in the linkage between parent and child mental disorder. The author states that in his experience, there is no mental illness or personality disorder which provides an absolute barrier to contact, or even residence, orders. His view is that the person best qualified to satisfy the Court as to the relevant issues in relation to a parent's mental state is not a general psychiatrist who sees one person, but a child psychiatrist who has also been trained in general psychiatry and who has the opportunity to hear from both parents.

Community Resource Base project, Alice Springs.

O'Kane A, Briscoe E and Fowler M
Casuarina, NT : Menzies School of Health Research, 1999
An evaluation of mental health service provision in central Australia was conducted in order to assess whether central Australians receive a fair share of financial resources for the provision of specialist mental health programs and whether they had the right mix of services for people with mental illness. This report contains an overview of the latter investigation and detailed consideration of the former. The report covers background information, the methodology of the Community Resource Base project, and presents the following results and discussion: survey target group; accommodation; income; employment; education and training; living situation support; leisure and recreation; social life and friendships; mental health services; consumer involvement; barriers and opportunities for recovery; and implications.

Psychiatric & behavioural disorders : family law issues.

Legal and Accounting Management Seminars Pty Ltd.
Bondi Junction, N.S.W. : LAAMS Publications, 1996.

Traumatic stress and vulnerable children.

Haliburn J
In: The 7th National Family Law Conference: The 3 R's: relationships, rights, responsibilities: conference handbook. Melbourne, Vic: Television Education Network, 1996, p205-212
The effects upon children of witnessing violence have for a long time often been underestimated. There is a need to identify and treat traumatised children as early as possible in order to prevent future depressive and anxiety disorders and psychological distress. This is the focus of this article. Four important areas which have an impact on the field of medico-legal psychiatry and the decision making process by the Family Law Court are examined: when one parent kills another; when a parent is suffering from post traumatic stsress disorder; when a parent has been and is suffering from a paranoid disorder; and when a child has an Attachment Order as a result of the mother's serious post partum depression. The case studies presented illustrate the need to integrate children's services rather than pursue a line of fragmentation. The growing body of research on the effects on children of chronic stress and traumatic events is analysed with an emphasis on the serious long term effects of exposure to violence for boys and girls.

The heart of the matter: families at the centre of public policy.

South Australia. Children's Interests Bureau
Interesting no. 15 Jul 1995 6-7
This article presents a summary of the key issues addressed in the response by the Children's Interests Bureau to the discussion paper on public policy affecting families prepared by the National Council for the International Year of the Family. Issues addressed include: the rights of children and public policy, children's services programs, family responsibilities and employment, family law, family violence, education, and mental illness.

The law handbook 1987.

Fitzroy Legal Service (Vic)
Melbourne, Vic : Nelson Wandsworth, 1987
The fundamental purpose of the book, the successor to the 'Legal Resources Book' is to open up the workings of the law and the legal system to all citizens. The book is divided into 23 chapters covering a range of topics - legal aid, consumers, debts, bankruptcy, family, children, Courts, pensions, employment, injuries, motor car property damage, crime, complaints, noise, tenancy, defamation, insurance, mental health, wills and estates, immigration, neighbours, property and tax. It includes a glossary and an index of organisations and agencies.
Subscribe to