The Australian Institute of Family Studies has been commissioned to evaluate recent reforms that aimed to improve the family law system's response to disclosures of family violence, child abuse, and safety concerns. This report presents findings from one component of the evaluation - the Experiences of Separated Parents Study - which compared the experiences of parents who had separated either before or after the reforms were introduced.
The parents were asked about their experiences of different types of abuse and violence, experiences of coercion and control, safety concerns for family members, use of protection orders, use of family law services for sorting out parenting arrangements, disclosure of violence or concerns to police or other services, consequences of disclosure, child wellbeing, child support compliance and fairness, and whether the family law system meets the needs of parents, addresses family violence, and protects the safety of children.
The findings highlight that the majority of separated parents do not use family law system services to any great extent, resolving their parenting arrangements with little or no assistance. However, the parents who do use services are those affected by complex problems - emphasising the challenges faced by the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 reforms.