Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments

Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments

Synthesis report

Rae Kaspiew, Rachel Carson, Jessie Dunstan, Lixia Qu, Briony Horsfall, John De Maio, Sharnee Moore, Lawrie Moloney, Melissa Coulson and Sarah Tayton

Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments— October 2015
Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments: Synthesis report

Key messages

Most separated parents don’t use family dispute resolution, lawyers or courts to resolve parenting matters after they separate.

Those parents who do use family law systems tend to be those affected by complex issues including family violence, mental ill-health, substance abuse and safety concerns for themselves and/or their children.

There has been an increased emphasis on identifying families with concerns about family violence and child abuse, however 29% of parents using family law system services reported never being asked about family violence or safety concerns.

Family law professionals indicated that better screening tools and approaches are required.

The reforms have supported sorting out parenting arrangements by agreement. This is likely to be due to a change in 2012 that means advisors tell parents that parenting arrangements should be in a child’s best interests.

Subtle changes in parenting arrangements are evident such as more parents with safety concerns reporting a shift away from overnight stays with fathers.

The proportion of children with court orders for shared care, where allegations of both family violence or child safety had been raised, fell  after the reforms (from 19% to 11%).

The proportion of court orders for shared care where neither family violence nor child safety was raised remained stable (22%): no significant change showed where only one issue was raised (17% pre-reform, 15% post-reform).

This report sets out the overall findings of the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments. The evaluation examined the effects of amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)  that were intended to improve the family law system’s responses to matters involving family violence and safety concerns.

The evaluation research program had three different elements. The findings from these three projects are described separately in the following reports:

Overall the main findings of the evaluation indicate that the 2012 family violence amendments are a step in the right direction in a reform agenda intended to improve the system’s response to family violence and child abuse concerns in post-separation parenting arrangements.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Rae Kaspiew  is a  Senior Research Fellow, Rachel Carson is a Research Fellow, Jessie Dunstan is a Senior Research Officer, Lixia Qu is a Senior Research Fellow, Briony Horsfall was a Senior Research Officer, John De Maio is a Research Fellow, Sharnee Moore is a Research Fellow, Lawrie Moloney is a Senior Research Fellow, Melissa Coulson was a Research Officer and  Sarah Tayton was a Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Read Acknowledgements

Cover photo: © Rachata Sinthopachakul/Shutterstock.com

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Publication details

Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2015.
98 pp.
Suggested citation:

Kaspiew, R., Carson, R., Dunstan, J., Qu, L., Horsfall, B., De Maio, J. et al. (2015). Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments: Synthesis report. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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