Family Court of Western Australia

News & Media Releases

Cross Examination - Changes to Family Law Act

29/04/2019

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)* was amended on 10 March 2019 to provide that from 10 September 2019, parties in family law proceedings are prohibited from personally cross-examining each other (which usually occurs at a trial) where there is an allegation of family violence between them and any of the following circumstances apply:

  • either party has been convicted of, or is charged with, an offence involving violence, or a threat of violence, to the other party;
  • a family violence order (other than an interim order) applies to both parties;
  • an injunction under sections 68B or 114 for the personal protection of either party is directed against the other party; or
  • the court makes an order that the mandatory requirements apply to the cross-examination.

The court may make an order to prevent personal cross-examination on its own initiative or on the application of either the examining party, the witness party, or an independent children’s lawyer. Where these conditions are met, the examining party must not cross-examine the witness party personally and the cross-examination can only be conducted by a legal practitioner acting on behalf of the examining party. If the examining party does not have legal representation, they will not be permitted to cross-examine the other party.

This applies to all parties to proceedings where there is an allegation of family violence between those parties and one or more of the circumstances are satisfied. This includes intervening parties, but only if the intervening party is involved in the allegation of family violence, whether as the alleged perpetrator or as the alleged victim.

For further information please see the cross-examination page.

*Mirror amendments have not yet been made to the Family Court Act 1997 (WA)