Amendments to the Family Law Act commenced 10 March 2019 relating to family violence and cross-examination of parties.
They will apply to cross-examinations occurring on 10 September 2019 and thereafter, regardless of when proceedings were instituted.
The following sections have been added to the Family Law Act 1975:
- 102NA Mandatory protections for parties in certain cases; and
- 102NB Court‑ordered protections in other cases.
Section 102NA provides greater protection for parties in circumstances of family violence where there are self-represented parties.
If a party intends to cross-examine the other party, in certain circumstances, they may not do so personally and cross-examination may only be conducted by a legal representative. Those circumstances are:
- there is an allegation of family violence between the examining party and the witness party; and
- any of the following are satisfied:
- either party has been convicted of, or is charged with, an offence involving violence, or a threat of violence, to the other party;
- a family violence order, other than an interim order, applies to both parties;
- an injunction under s 68B or s 114 for the personal protection of either party is directed against the other party;
- the court makes an order that the requirements of legal representation for cross-examination are to apply.
If a party intends to cross-examine the other party personally and there are allegations of family violence, the court must ensure that during the cross-examination there are appropriate protections for the party who is the alleged victim of the family violence.
The By Lawyers Children and Property Settlement commentaries have been updated accordingly.