Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments

Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments

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).

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.

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Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments
98 pp.
ISBN: 
978-1-76016-048-7