Different types of intimate partner violence? A comment on the Australian Institute of Family Studies report examining allegations of famly violence in child proceedings under the Family Law Act

LexisNexis Butterworths
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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Family Law, 2008, 22 pp. 123 - 151
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In June 2007 the Australian Institute of Family Studies published a study that examined allegations of family violence and child abuse in child proceedings under the Family Law Act. The study examined a large number of court files from two registries of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court. It looked at the nature of the allegations, who made them, whether the allegations were supported by evidence, and the response by the other party to these allegations.Many of its findings are in accord with other studies which have also demonstrated that violence is prominent in family law proceedings and that outcomes rarely reflect whether there are allegations of violence or not. Importantly the study reported on the lack of detail and evidence to support many allegations and the difficulty that this creates for the court in determining final orders (or in providing a framework for negotiations). However, rather than suggesting that we need to look at the ways that violence can be better reported and responded to in family law proceedings, the authors instead suggest that we need to differentiate between different kinds of intimate partner violence. This finding does not flow from the data. This article explores the AIFS study by focusing on concerns around differentiation between different kinds of domestic violence, and its connection to debates about definitions and understandings of intimate partner violence.
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