How do I prove domestic violence in a divorce?
Instances of domestic violence are unfortunately not uncommon. It is important to remember that no one should feel unsafe and threatened, particularly in a family environment. Thus, no matter how small or insubstantial it may seem at the time, it is important to report all matters of violence to the police and to provide a statement. Should you ever decide to proceed and try to prosecute a case, your statement could be very useful.
What is domestic violence and what does it include?
Domestic violence is defined in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and can take many different forms. It generally occurs when there is a large power imbalance between the perpetrator and victim. Whilst the majority of cases involve male perpetrators and violence that occurs in intimate partner relationships, domestic and family violence can also include acts of violence towards children and any other members of your family.
Domestic and family violence can include things like:
- Physical violence (e.g. punching, hitting, kicking, and can also include throwing things at an individual)
- Emotional violence (e.g. emotional manipulation and verbal abuse)
- Unwanted sexual acts or touching
- Threatening words and acts
- Breaching an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVOs, also known as restraining orders)
Cases of domestic violence can be incredibly complex and varied. Some individuals only want the violence to stop and still desire to be with their partner. Others want to leave their abusive households and live elsewhere. Whilst the desired, final outcome may differ, both instances require a victim to prove that an act or acts of violence was committed against them.
What are some things I can do to help prove my case?
Proving domestic violence can be difficult. Having good, detailed evidence will help to make the process easier:
Access any surveillance or CCTV footage
If an instance of abuse ever occurs in a public space, it is worth checking to see if any cameras were recording. Many shops and buildings will have CCTV cameras installed to ensure the security of the property.
Obtain testimonies or statements from witnesses
If there are any witnesses to an instance of domestic abuse, it is strongly recommended that you get their signed statement. They may be able to aid you in your case by testifying in court.
Take video and/or audio recordings
Video or audio recordings can be extremely useful as evidence in court. Be sure to take photos of any physical injuries you have suffered, or any damage caused to your property. However, you should only endeavor to take such evidence if it is safe to do so. Maintaining your personal safety should always be the top priority.
Take detailed notes
Recording specific time stamps and writing down the exact details after a violent event has occurred can make it easier to recall evidence. This is especially helpful if you were unable to document the violence at the time it occurred. It will also ensure that you do not forget any important details that may help with your case.
Taking screenshots of any social media content that may be relevant to your case is also important. This will ensure that you have evidence of any abusive content that is posted and later deleted.
Many victims are also threatened and abused during the trial process. If this occurs, it is recommended that you keep track of all the messages and calls that you receive. This can be important for proving harassment, stalking and other instances of abusive behaviour.
Does the law say anything about the type of evidence I should present?
Each state and territory in Australia has different laws regarding what evidence you can use in court. Generally, you will need certified copies of any documents you present. If you are unable to obtain them, only certain parts of the document may be accepted as evidence. Obtaining police reports, medical reports and other documents may require you to get a subpoena signed by the judge.
As rules of evidence can be complex, you may decide to seek legal advice from a professional. A consultation with a lawyer can help to clarify what types of evidence you should focus on obtaining for your case.
If you have any questions about domestic and family violence against you and your family, feel free to reach us via the contact form.
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