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Before we start, I will answer the inevitable question. Yes, women are perpetrators too[1].  Our understanding of violence and families tends to be strongly gendered, reflective of our broader society.

Check the credibility of your sources – if it’s a men’s rights activist, they’ll have a bias.  If it’s a feminist activist, they’ll have a bias.  If it’s an Anglo, professional/middle class probably conservative legal professional, they’ll have a bias.

How is this relevant to practitioners who don’t do parenting or restraining order cases?

Family and domestic violence (FDV) isn’t confined to neat legal subject areas like crime, restraining orders and parenting cases.  It permeates the substantive areas of property, maintenance and child support/adult child maintenance cases just as much.  It goes well beyond Kennon [2] in factoring in that the victim’s contributions were made more arduous as a result of the violence. We see it as unconscionable conduct in financial agreement cases[3] and in guarantees[4].

It also permeates the procedural elements of negotiation, mediation, collaboration, arbitration and litigation; how we create a physically safe place for these to occur and our own boundaries about what we can and should do in representing our clients.

The focus of this paper is how we, as practitioners, should conduct ourselves when we act for alleged perpetrators.  It’s about being part of the solution, rather than being part of the problem.  For those of you sitting there thinking this is some kind of motherhood statement, look at it as avoiding proving the victim’s case by the way you conduct the alleged perpetrator’s case.

Click here to continue reading the full article 

[1] Family and Domestic Violence in Australia 28 February 2018, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

[2] In the Marriage of Kennon (1997) FLC 92-757

[3] Thorne v Kennedy [2017] HCA 49

[4] Garcia v National Australia Bank Ltd (1998) 194 CLR 395

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