|CW Hooper & Hooper|
As of 12 January 2015 a mandatory Notice of Risk must be filed with all initiating applications and responses seeking parenting orders in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The Notice of Risk requires the applicant and respondent to advise the Court of child abuse and/or family violence, or risk of same, as defined by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“Act”). The parties to a proceeding must file the mandatory notice even in matters where abuse and/or family violence, or risk of same, are not present to their knowledge.
Abuse and family violence in relation to a child are defined under section 4 of the Act. Abuse includes assault, sexual assault, causing the child to suffer serious psychological harm, including (but not limited to) when that harm is caused by the child being subjected to, or exposed to, family violence. Abuse also includes serious neglect of the child. Family violence means violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person's family (adult or child), or causes the family member to be fearful.
If a party informs the Court that a child has been abused and/or is at risk of abuse then the Registry is required to report this information to a child welfare authority as provided for by the Act. The mandatory application of the rule meets the object of the Act concerning children’s matters and promotes the paramount principle, namely to provide for the best interests of children and that proceedings be conducted in a manner which will: a) safeguard children concerned from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence, and b) safeguard parties to proceedings against family violence.