Direct cross-examination in family law matters: A new approach?

Family law processes within the Courts
Thursday 26 July, 1400 – 1420

Presenters

Dr Rachel Carson
Australian Institute of Family Studies

Abstract
In July 2017, the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department released proposed amendments to the Family Law Act aimed at ensuring “that victims of family violence are not put in a position where they are personally cross-examined by alleged perpetrators, or required themselves to cross-examine their alleged perpetrator” (Media Release, 9 May 2017).

Until now, there has been limited evidence about how often direct cross-examination involving self-represented litigants occurs in family law proceedings and under what circumstances. This presentation will outline the findings from recent research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies that was commissioned by the Attorney General’s Department to inform the process of legislative amendments. Insight will be provided into both the extent of direct cross-examination involving self-represented litigants in family law hearings where there is alleged or substantiated family violence and the factual and legal context characterising these family law matters. These robust data inform the ongoing discussion about improving system responses to victims of family violence.