Can I see my kids if there is an AVO against me?
At The Norton Law Group, expert family lawyers in Sydney, we are often asked “does an AVO or protection order prevent me from seeing my children?”
An AVO, ADVO or protection order is an order made by a court that orders a person to stop from making threats or acts of domestic violence. You can have an AVO made against you if the Court considers that there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have, or are likely to commit an act of domestic violence against another person. Family (domestic) violence is defined in the Family Law Act as, “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful.”
Alternatively, you may also have an AVO made against you if you have stalked or intimidated another person with the intent to cause physical or mental harm. Read here to know how and when to obtain an AVO
Having a protection order against you however does not automatically stop you from being able to spend time with your children. Having a protection order for the making of protection against you can though affect how much time you spend with your children and how often you communicate with your children in circumstances where there are any interim or final parenting orders in place or being sought in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Much will depend on the specific wording of the domestic violence order and whether the local Court made a finding that domestic violence had occurred.
If a parenting order and an AVO conflict, the parenting order overrides the AVO. For example, if your parenting order provides for you to pick up your children from the protected person’s house on a Friday at 7.00pm, this will be allowed. However attending at the protected person’s house at any other time may be considered a breach of the AVO, as will any other behaviour that conflicts with the AVO conditions.
It is important to remember that parenting orders are made by the Courts, unlike parenting plans. A parenting plan is not a Court Order and it does not override an AVO. If there are no interim or final orders made under the Family Law Act (1975) Cth, and your children are living with the person who made the application for the protection order, that parent may take it upon themselves to withhold the children or deny time with you, whether or not there is a risk of child abuse or harm to the children. It is important you seek advice from a specialist family lawyer about your parenting arrangements, and obtain parenting orders to prevent an aggrieved former spouse from withholding children.
Protecting a child from family violence is a primary consideration for the Court when assessing what is in the best interests of a child. The Family Law Courts are committed to ensuring that issues about family violence are addressed promptly and with priority in matters concerning children.
We recommend seeking advice from our team of expert family lawyers. Our family lawyers are experienced in domestic and family violence and will assist you in these difficult times. We specialise in all areas of family law services, including the treatment of AVO, ADVO’s and protection orders in a family law context.