OVER the course of the 2017-18 financial year more than 45,000 people fronted the Queensland courts over a domestic violence order (DVO).
In fact, according to the most recent data from the Queensland Police Service more breaches of DVOs are being reported each year, than assaults.
Once a protection order is taken out in the Magistrates Court any parenting plan the Family Courts approve must be consistent with the protection order.
Further the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) states any party to a family law proceedings must inform the courts if a protection order is in place, so, your solicitor and those acting for the other side need to tell the Family Court judge about the matter.
What a Protection Order Means in terms of Access to Children
Australia’s family law places a great deal of emphasis of ensuring children have access to and spend time with both of their parents.
And only in very extreme circumstances is a long-term order which denies a parent any time at all with their child, put in place.
That said, in cases where a protection order is put in place the Magistrate who issued the order has found that on the balance of probabilities some form of domestic violence has occurred.
This doesn’t mean criminal charges have been laid in relation to that domestic violence – a lot of clients find the fact they have been accused of domestic violence but not charged with a criminal offence difficult to reconcile.
It just means the Magistrate was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that domestic violence occurred.
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In contrast in criminal matters the courts must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal offence took place.
While it’s a Magistrate that has found in favour of a protection order being put in place, a Judge from the Family Court will decide upon any parenting order and the two interact with each other.
For example, under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) the courts have to apply a presumption that it is in the best interests of a child to have equal or shared time with both of their parents.
However, that presumption is rebutted if there has been abuse or family violence.
And any protection order may be used as evidence to argue it would not be in the best interests of the child for the parents to have equal or shared responsibility.
So, while a protection order does not definitively mean someone will lose access to their children it can, and often will, have an impact on the parenting orders the Family Court puts in place.