The Family Court Amendment Bill 2019 (WA) (the “Bill”) was introduced into WA’s Parliament on 16 October 2019, by the Attorney-General, the Hon John Quigley. The Bill proposes amendments to the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) (the “WA Act”) to “provide protection in relation to the cross-examination of parties who are parents of ex-nuptial children or who were in a de-facto relationship”.
The federal Family Law Amendment (Family Violence Cross-examination of Parties) Act 2018 (Cth) passed the Federal Parliament on 10 December 2018, and amended the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) to “provide protections for victims of family violence during the cross-examination process in all family law proceedings”.
As a result, the WA Act has been amended to mirror the amendments made to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), thus ensuring that the parents of ex-nuptial children and people who were in a de-facto relationship are treated in the same way as married couples.
The Bill will prohibit personal cross-examination in family law proceedings in certain circumstances. In cases where there is an allegation of family violence between the parties to a Family Court proceeding, the parties will be prohibited from directly cross-examining each other in any of the following circumstances:
The WA Act is proposed to be amended by inserting a new Division 3 “Cross-examination of parties where allegations of family violence” and the following amendments:
Commenting on the Bill in his second reading speech, the Attorney-General said:
As indicated in the Bill’s EM, it is hoped that apart from reducing trauma to victims of family violence, there are also a number of other benefits that will arise from the legislation:
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