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Family Matters No. 77 - December 2007

Separating safety from situational violence: Response to "Allegations of family violence and child abuse in family law children's proceedings"

A pre-reform exploratory study
Alice Bailey

Abstract

The research report 'Allegations of family violence and child abuse in child-related disputes in family law proceedings', published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2007, provides evidence challenging a common myth that women frequently claim false allegations of family violence in child custody cases. Unfortunately, unless these allegations are accompanied by strong evidence, they will have little impact on post-separation child contact. This article discusses these findings, and the wider debate on whether courts should discriminate between different forms or severity of domestic abuse. The author argues that child and carer safety must be of paramount concern, requiring separate court pathways for cases involving domestic violence, and improved resources for assessment and support.

The research report 'Allegations of family violence and child abuse in child-related disputes in family law proceedings', published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2007, provides evidence challenging a common myth that women frequently claim false allegations of family violence in child custody cases. Unfortunately, unless these allegations are accompanied by strong evidence, they will have little impact on post-separation child contact. This article discusses these findings, and the wider debate on whether courts should discriminate between different forms or severity of domestic abuse. The author argues that child and carer safety must be of paramount concern, requiring separate court pathways for cases involving domestic violence, and improved resources for assessment and support.

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