Parenting orders and family violence or child abuse

Parenting orders and family violence or child abuse

If there are allegations of family violence or child abuse, this will affect how any family law court cases are managed.

The court can make arrangements to protect the safety of children and family members.

In situations where there is family violence or child abuse, a family dispute resolution practitioner may decide that you do not need to go to family dispute resolution before applying for a parenting order.

This includes where threats by the other person make it difficult for you to participate equally in the dispute resolution process.

You can also make an application directly to the court without getting a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner. However, the court must be reasonably satisfied that there is family violence or child abuse, or a risk of one or both of these.

What the court can do

When applying for parenting orders, it is important that you notify the court if:

Both are relevant matters to how your case is managed by the court.

If the court finds that there are issues of family violence or child abuse, it may not immediately make a parenting order. If the Department of Human Services is involved or becomes involved in a child protection case any family law proceedings will not continue. The court may order the department to provide any relevant information. The court will try to make an 'interim' (temporary) order that protects the children.

In situations where each party says different things and the court cannot determine who is telling the truth, the court may order that one party’s time with the children is supervised.

The court may also order the appointment of an independent children’s lawyer, who can investigate further and make a report. National Legal Aid's website has more information about the role of independent children's lawyers for children and parents.

The court will make sure anyone experiencing family violence can get information about services and options available from a family counsellor or family dispute resolution practitioner. If there is an urgent risk of family violence or child abuse, the court may make a parenting order and direct that the affected family member receive information later on.

If there has been family violence or child abuse, or the risk of these, get legal advice. If you are considering family dispute resolution, let the family dispute resolution service know immediately.