Children Australia


Can Family Law Protect Young Children?

Freda Briggsa1 c1 and Elspeth McInnesa1

a1 University of South Australia, Australia

When young children tell their mothers that they are being sexually abused by their father, the mother faces a dilemma; if she does nothing, state child protection services can remove her children as being in need of care and protection. If police are called, she is likely to be told to leave the family home to keep her children safe. If she does, the father is likely to turn to the federal family law system1 to seek time with the children. If the mother seeks an order for supervised, or no further contact with the child to protect them from abuse, she may lose residence of the child and the child may be ordered to live with the abusing parent.


  • family law;
  • child abuse and children


c1 address for correspondence: Dr Freda Briggs AO, Emeritus Professor in Child Development, University of South Australia, Magill Campus, SA 5072 Email: