Est. read time: 3 min
If you go to Court for a family and domestic violence matter, it will likely be your word against your former partner. Providing evidence will make your version of events more credible. When it is safe to do so, record an incident soon after it has occurred to get the most complete version of the story and whilst you have all available evidence on hand.
Record evidence for family court
There are many ways you can record this information, including:
- In a diary, this can often be the easiest and most inconspicuous way to record your story in a detailed and well-ordered manner
- Notes on a device, using a note-taking or calendar app
- In dv-specific evidence apps
- ‘Arc’ is a free, specially designed smartphone app for keeping track of incidents of family violence. it allows you to upload photos, videos, audio recordings and diary entries.
- For more information about arc, see technology safety Australia website. Read the safety and privacy considerations on the website before downloading the app.
- Text messages, screenshot or ask friends or family members to save texts you send that detail the experience you are having with your partner
The Judge or Magistrate will want a complete understanding of what happened, try to provide this in your evidence:
- When (date and time) and where the incident happened
- Exactly what happened – including what you and your partner said and did
- Whether anyone else was present at the time and, if there were, what they saw or heard
- Whether the incident was reported to anyone – e.g. police, a doctor, friends or family
Keep a record of any other relevant important events such as:
- Meetings with police (including incident numbers), child protection services, medical professionals and lawyers
- Communications from your children’s school about their performance or behaviours at school
- Communications from centrelink (regarding parenting payments, etc.) and the child support agency
- Any relevant programs or community groups you attend, such as a parenting program, substance abuse or mental health program, or family dispute resolution
There are many different forms of information worth collecting including documentary evidence that proves your version of events. These include:
- Text messages between yourself and your partner which show the way they communicate with you and what they have said
- Photographs of any injuries you or another person have suffered or of any damage done by your partner
- Video and audio recordings of verbal abuse, physical abuse, drunken behaviour even if not directed at you and abusive or hostile behaviour to other people, even to friends and family
- Screenshots of text messages, call logs or posts to social media accounts, bank statements particularly the case if you have experienced financial abuse, police reports including reference numbers to specific instances
It is important to protect yourself and the integrity of your evidence, follow these steps for safe collection:
- Keep physical records secure in a locked safe or security deposit box, give it to a friend or store it at work for safekeeping
- Store digital evidence safely using passwords and on a device that your partner doesn’t know about, if you think they may be monitoring your device. For device safety tips, see Prepare 1A.
- Make copies
- Things often get lost, stolen or destroyed, so keep at least one other copy of your records (scan them or take a photo)
- Save all electronic files onto a hard drive or usb that you can keep in a safe place
- Save copies of documents onto an online storage facility (e.g. google drive or dropbox) so that you can access them from any computer
- Email yourself copies of electronic documents and save them in your inbox
- Download and save copies of all text message conversations you have with your partner
Remember stalking, harassment and abuse are not okay and not your fault.
If you are in immediate danger please call 000, or to speak to a trained counsellor and call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
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