Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties Scheme

Amendments to the  Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) have been made that provide protection to victims of family violence who are cross-examined as part of family law proceedings.

From 10 September 2019, personal cross-examination will be banned in family law proceedings in certain circumstances where allegations of family violence have been raised. 

Personal cross-examination is where a party asks questions of another party or witness directly, rather than having the questions asked by a lawyer.

Under the scheme, cross-examination will now be conducted by legal representatives.

The scheme is funded by the Commonwealth Government, who will provide $7m, over three years, to legal aid commissions to provide legal representation to parties subject to the ban.

This will remove the fear of being directly cross-examined by their perpetrator as a factor in a woman’s decision whether to settle a matter, and encourage women who have experienced family violence to pursue their legal entitlements. The provision of legal assistance will also support the expeditious resolution of family law matters, assisting women to recover from abusive relationships and obtain economic security for themselves and their children sooner.

For more information, read the Court’s fact sheet.