09 August 2019

Direct cross-examination in family law: Research summary

This paper presents the findings of the Direct Cross-Examination in Family Law Matters project which aimed to establish the extent to which direct cross-examination was a feature in cases involving self-represented litigants in families characterised by alleged, or substantiated family violence; and how these cases compared, factually and legally, to cases where direct cross-examination did not take place. Direct cross-examination took place in more than two-thirds of in-scope cases (72%). The most common form of direct cross-examination was where the father directly cross-examined the mother and typically specific safeguards were not in place when direct cross-examination was permitted. There were higher rates of allegations of family violence against both parents in files where there was direct cross-examination compared to files with no direct cross-examination. In cases where there were allegations of family violence, 83% were against the father and 39% against the mother.