Self-representation in family law matters where there are allegations of violence from the perspectives of Independent Children’s Lawyers

Family law processes within the Courts
Thursday 26 July, 1340 – 1400


Miranda Kaye
University of Technology Sydne

Women experiencing intimate partner violence are often required to engage with different areas of law in order to seek a response to that violence, for example, civil protection, criminal and family law proceedings. Depending upon the jurisdiction and type of proceedings, the woman may face direct personal cross-examination by the perpetrator of that violence in those proceedings.
This paper explores gaps in the protection provided to victims of violence from direct cross-examination in New South Wales (NSW) and at a federal level in family law proceedings. In NSW, an alleged perpetrator of violence who is self-represented can still cross-examine the alleged victim in civil protection order proceedings and criminal proceedings (unless it is a sexual offence or the victim otherwise is considered “vulnerable”). We explore this gap at the state level through interviews with police prosecutors and observations of court proceedings.
We then turn to look at the situation in family law proceedings where there are current proposals to reform this area. The research involves interviewing women who have been involved in family law proceedings and various professionals working in this area to explore how they have managed relevant proceedings, and their perceptions of difficulties faced by victims in proceedings, together with any ideas in relation to potential reforms to improve the experience for victims and ensure that best evidence is put before the court. Our research in this area aims to complement the Australian Institute of Family Studies research attempting to identify the extent to which direct cross-examination takes place in family law proceedings.