25 September 2023

More support for women in break-ups

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A new funding arrangement for family law services that help women establish economic security after ending a relationship has been announced.

Part of the recently announced Women’s Economic Security Package, the arrangement will support women who may not have the financial or other means to access services, lawyers, and the courts to resolve their family law disputes.

The Attorney-General, Christian Porter said the package of measures would assist and encourage women, including victims of family violence, to pursue safer, faster, and fairer parenting arrangements and property settlements after separation and would assist them obtain economic security for themselves and their children.

“Without appropriate support and assistance, women may be more likely to agree to inequitable settlements to avoid the stress and cost of going to court, or to abandon their property claims altogether,” Mr Porter said.

“Victims of family violence will benefit from new ongoing funding for Legal Aid Commissions to support the ban on direct cross-examination by perpetrators of family violence.

“The funding, initially seven million dollars over three years, establishes the new Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties Scheme.”

He said the changes would protect victims of family violence in family law proceedings by banning direct cross-examination in certain circumstances, requiring that cross-examination be conducted by a legal representative.

“Legal representation under the scheme will be available to all parties who are subject to the ban on direct cross-examination — the usual legal aid means and merits tests will not apply,” Mr Porter said.

“The Family Violence and Cross-Examination of Parties Scheme provides funding certainty for victims of family violence and ensures that their perpetrators will never be able to directly cross-examine them in future.”

He said the measures responded to recommendations made in a report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs entitled A Better Family Law System to Support and Protect Those Affected by Family Violence as well as proposals under consideration by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Review of the Family Law System.​​

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