Case Study: Protecting a mother and child in a domestic violence situation

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Domestic violence is a serious problem which impacts many Central Coast families. 

It is a major health and welfare issue, and it occurs across all ages, socioeconomic and demographic groups, but mainly affects women and children. 

Indigenous women, young women and pregnant women are particularly at risk.

Children can often experience family violence as a witness and/or a victim. More than two-thirds (68%) of mothers who had children in their care when they experienced violence from their previous partner said their children had seen or heard the violence (ABS Personal Safety Survey 2017).

In 2016, an estimated 17 per cent of Australian women aged 18 years and over (or 1.6 million women) had experienced violence by a partner since the age of 15 years (ABS 2017b).

The number of police recorded victims of family and domestic violence related sexual assault increased by 13 per cent in 2020, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

30 women a week are assaulted on the Central Coast alone.

Yet people are more likely to call the police for barking dogs, loud music and poorly-fitting masks.

Domestic and family violence in Australia statistics

Women are more likely to experience abuse at the hands of a partner

  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while for men it is 1 in 16.
  • 75% of victims of domestic violence reported the perpetrator as male, while 25% reported the perpetrator as female.
  • Overall, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence.
  • On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.

Source: AIHW, (2018) Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018.

Domestic and family violence is a leading cause of homelessness

  • 1 in 3 clients (29% or about 82,300 clients) seeking assistance from homelessness services stated domestic and family violence was the most common main reason identified for seeking help.
  • 41% (or 119,200) of people seeking help from specialist homelessness services in 2019-20 had experienced domestic and family violence.

Source: AIHW, (2020): Specialist homelessness services annual report, 2020

Source: Mission Australia.

Our Client’s Story

Our lawyer Tim acted on behalf of a mother in a parenting and financial matter. 

She had been with her partner for seven years, and they had a young child together.

The mother had left the domestic violence relationship and – due to being the primary parent and homemaker – was of limited means and had a very limited earning capacity.

Issues 

We needed to ascertain what physical and financial protections (immediate and long-term) could be secured to protect the mother and the child, and also allow the mother to financially re-establish herself and support herself and the child going into the future. 

What we did          

Tim advised the client of the pragmatic steps she could take in the meantime to protect herself and her child (both physically and financially) before the matter came before the court.

He then filed urgent court proceedings and had orders made on the first occasion that: 

  • The child lives with the mother, spends no time with the father/husband (father) and prohibits the father from taking the child;
  • The father be removed from the family home within 48 hours and be responsible for the mortgage repayments; and
  • The matter be expedited as fast as possible.

Outcome            

Within three months of the first court appearance, the mother had final parenting orders made for the child to live with her and spend no time and have no communication with the father. 

The mother had final financial orders for her to receive 75% of the total matrimonial asset pool.

This was a positive and safe outcome for our client and her child.

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence, or know someone who is, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit the 1800RESPECT website (National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service for people living in Australia).

Don’t be a bystander, be an ally: If you see something, do something.

Call Crime Stoppers to report a crime, or Triple-0 in an emergency.

If you have a concern about a family law matter, we have specialists who can help you right now, so please get in touch with our expert Central Coast lawyers who can offer you sound legal advice and a fresh approach. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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