Vexatious Litigation in Family Law and Coercive Control: Ways to Improve Legal Remedies and Better Protect the Victims
Emma Fitch and Patricia Easteal (2017) ‘Vexatious Litigation in Family Law and Coercive Control: Ways to Improve Legal Remedies and Better Protect the Victims,’ Family Law Review, 7, 103-115.
16 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017 Last revised: 19 Mar 2019
Date Written: August 8, 2017
The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence suggested that vexatious litigation may share similar characteristics with violent behaviour, namely coercion and control. In this article, through drawing on the insights of a sample of family law practitioners and the narrative of a domestic violence survivor, we seek to explore how vexatious litigation in family law matters may contain elements of such violence. We also see how vexatious litigation can consume significant court resources, and cause financial and emotional hardship upon the other party. Noting that there are more vexatious litigants in the Family Courts than all other jurisdictions in Australia combined, we examine whether the current family law legislation and family court processes adequately protect the other parties, and assist lawyers in dealing with this type of litigator. We also present a number of legislative and non-legislative suggestions for how responses could be improved, with the caveat that any change to better protect parties from vexatious behaviour must maintain a balance with allowing access to justice.
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This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in the Family Law Review and should be cited as Emma Fitch, Patricia L. Easteal, Vexatious Litigation in Family Law and Coercive Control: Ways to Improve Legal Remedies and Better Protect the Victims, 2017, 7, Fam L Rev, 103.
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Keywords: Vexatious litigation, Family law, Coercive control
JEL Classification: K36, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation