Can A Protection Order Prevent Me From Seeing My Children?

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A protection order is an order made by a court that requires a person to not commit any act of domestic violence against another person. In Queensland, these orders are made under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act (2012) and while they do not automatically prevent a person from seeing their child/ren it is important to obtain family law advice on the potential implications of a protection order on care arrangements for a child.

What might prevent me from seeing my children?

Although a domestic violence protection order does not prevent you from seeing your child/ren, the terms of the protection order and the nature of the allegations of domestic violence must be taken into consideration when determining care arrangements for your child/ren. It will be important to consider:

  • how the protection order is worded (any agreement as to care arrangements will need to ensure that there would be no potential breach of the protection order);
  • the existence of any interim or final parenting orders and how those orders interact with the protection order;
  • the seriousness of the allegations of domestic violence levelled against the Respondent (and any potential risk alleged to the child/ren); and
  • if the Magistrates Court made a finding that the alleged domestic violence occurred. We recommend that family law advice is sought regarding the impact of domestic violence proceedings on children’s care arrangements as soon as the Application for a Protection Order is served.

What happens when there are no parenting consent orders in place?

If there are no parenting consent orders in place then the parent whom the protection order is made in favour of may seek to limit contact and communication between the child or children and the other parent. 

In this instance, it is advisable for the parent who is the named respondent to seek advice in relation to parenting arrangements and orders. The most cost-effective and harmonious way to co-parent a child is for the parents to reach an agreement outside of court. Parenting orders can then be made quite easily by the court without the parties having to attend.

Stress levels and costs build-up when agreements are not reached in a timely manner and the court is forced to determine an outcome that is in the best interests of the child, rather than considering the parents’ and children’s circumstances holistically. Parenting orders can still be made, but the process may be drawn out and expensive.

If a protection order exists before parenting orders have been made, the court will need to consider the allegations of domestic violence when considering what orders to make in the best interests of the child. Sometimes the parent who is the named respondent will consent to a protection order without admission of violence so a hearing can be avoided, as a Magistrate’s decision may adversely affect the parenting orders, however, these types of decisions should be made after advice from an experienced family lawyer.

Are there penalties for breaching a protection order?

It is a criminal offence to breach the terms of a protection order. When the Aggrieved and Respondent have children together, it is important to seek that the terms of the protection order include exceptions to facilitate continuing communication between the parents in relation to the child and the ability to be in the presence of other parent for changeovers relating to the child.

Depending on the terms of any protection order made, there is the potential for the continuation of child arrangements to constitute a breach of that order.  We strongly recommend that advice is sought regarding the terms of the order, there are mechanisms that can be put in place to prevent allegations of a breach of a protection order.

When can the court intervene?

If a protection order prevents you from seeing or communicating with your child, you can still seek orders to facilitate communication and time with your child through the Family Courts.  The Family Courts will have to take into consideration the allegations of domestic violence and any findings of the Magistrates Court when making orders in relation to your child. 

If the court is concerned about the risk of domestic or family violence to the child, they may put in place protective measures for the child, for example, that the time with the child be supervised. 

If a protection order is preventing you from seeing your child or children, our family lawyers in Cairns can help you to navigate the intricacies of parenting orders to legally seek contact with your family again.

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