The FLA includes a definition of “abuse” to cover assault, sexual abuse and exploitation, causing a child to suffer serious psychological harm, including where the child is exposed to family violence and serious neglect. In regard to assault, the act constituting assault is no longer required to be an offence under a state or territory law

The FLA includes a definition of “abuse” to cover assault, sexual abuse and exploitation, causing a child to suffer serious psychological harm, including where the child is exposed to family violence and serious neglect. In regard to assault, the act constituting assault is no longer required to be an offence under a state or territory law: FLA s 4(1).

The FLA also includes a definition of “Family violence” as “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful”. The definition also includes a non-exhaustive list of examples of behaviour that could constitute family violence: FLA s 4AB(1).

When you act for and advise a client who seeks a parenting order about the care of and living arrangements for a child, or opposes a parenting order sought by the other parent, you need to ask practical questions, including but not limited to:

·         What is the age and sex of the child?

·         What is the relationship of the child with each parent, and other people such as grandparents?

·         How will the client look after the child before and after school?

·         What will be the accommodation provided for the child at your client’s home and the other parent’s home?

·         What are the health needs of the child?

·         Who has been the principal carer of the child in the past? Should this change in the future and why?

·         Are there any factors which could be detrimental to the child, such as an alcohol or drug problem of the client, or the other parent or partner of either parent?

·         Are there (or have there been) any family violence orders in place concerning the client or the other parent or partner of either parent?

·         Has the child been subject, or exposed, to abuse or neglect by a member of the family?

·         Is the child at risk of being exposed to abuse or neglect by a member of the family?

·         What future proposals are there for the child’s care and relationship with both parents?

·         Is there is a need to protect the child from abuse or family violence or the risk of abuse or family violence?

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