Vexatious litigation in family law and coercive control: Ways to improve legal remedies and better protect the victims

Emma Fitch , Patricia EASTEAL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
JournalFamily Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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