Family Law and Family Violence

Working in family law

In Australia, family law is largely governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) which covers divorce, children and parenting, property division and other related matters. Generally, these disputes are heard in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Working in family law can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. As a family lawyer, your practice will include helping your clients navigate divorces, property settlements following marriage or de facto relationship breakdown, parenting arrangements, financial agreements and child support disputes. Family lawyers must therefore be resilient, empathetic and people-oriented, as they will often be working closely with clients who are emotionally distressed and facing difficult personal circumstances, such as relationship breakdown, family violence and abuse. Family law practitioners must also develop a range of legal skills such as advocacy and alternative dispute resolution and must quickly learn to navigate the family law and support services system.

The following organisation specialise in family law:

Working in family violence

Family violence is an important social issue and there are many organisations which aim to reduce the impacts of domestic and family violence on individuals and families.

Family violence can be perpetrated by any family member against any other family member, though it is most commonly perpetrated by men and experienced by women and children. It is defined under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) as behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour:

  • is physically or sexually abusive
  • is emotionally or psychologically abusive
  • is economically abusive
  • is threatening
  • is coercive, or
  • in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.

Family violence includes behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to, the effects of the above.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that:

  • One in three women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15
  • Nearly one in five women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15
  • 16% of women had experienced violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15

To view the ABS Personal Safety Survey on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

The following organisations specialise in helping those suffering from family violence:

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