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DVOs and Children (Qld)

Written by Temeka Sue-Tin

Temeka Sue-Tin is a solicitor in the Maroochydore office on the Sunshine Coast. Temeka holds a Bachelor of Laws from Griffith University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the College of Law. She is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland and in the High Court of Australia. Temeka completed her Practical Legal Training at GTC Lawyers. She has strong interests in criminal and traffic law, family law, civil law and succession law.

Domestic Violence Orders in Queensland are made under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. A domestic violence order is designed to protect someone who is, or has been in, an intimate relationship or an informal care relationship. DVOs can also be made between family members, such as parent and child or brother and sister. A person below the age of 18 can be protected by an order but a young person can only be a party to a DVO in very limited circumstances.

What conditions can be included on DVOs?

The court may impose any conditions that are necessary and desirable to help protect a person – or another person in their care – who is at risk of domestic violence. All domestic violence protection orders in Queensland must include a condition ordering the person to be of good behaviour and not commit further acts of domestic violence. An order can also include a condition not to expose a child to domestic violence.

Other conditions that may be included on DVOs are:

  • Not to attempt to locate or approach any named person;
  • Not to contact, attempt to contact, or have someone else contact, any named person;
  • To return property which belongs to the other person, or allow them to collect their property; or
  • Not to approach, remain at, or enter particular premises.

Can a child be included on a DVO?

When applying for a domestic violence order, a request can be made for children to be included on the protection order if they have been exposed to domestic violence. A child has been exposed to domestic violence if they have heard, seen or otherwise experienced domestic violence. This includes situations where a child helps a family member who has been injured as a result of domestic violence or where a child sees damaged property in their home as a result of domestic violence. An unborn child can also be deemed to have been exposed to domestic violence.

The Magistrate will consider the request to include children on the domestic violence protection order and will do so if the court deems it necessary and desirable to protect the children from domestic violence.

If there are current family law proceedings or family court orders relating to the children, then this should be brought to the Magistrate’s attention when the court is considering a domestic violence order. The Magistrate will consider the family court orders before deciding to make or vary a domestic violence order. It is advisable to provide the court with a copy of the order.

Likewise, if you have a domestic violence protection order and there are family law proceedings, then the family court should be made aware of the domestic violence order.

Can a child be a party to a DVO?

A person under the age of 18 can only be the applicant or respondent in a domestic violence protection order if the young person is in, or has been in, an intimate personal relationship with the other party, or if they have an informal care relationship with the other party.

Where a young person is the respondent in a DVO application, a copy of the application must be served on the young person’s parent or guardian.

A juvenile cannot be an applicant or respondent to a domestic violence protection order if it relates to a family relationship. This means that a child cannot apply for an order against their parent and a parent cannot apply for an order against their child. If a child requires protection from a family member, then they should contact police or children’s services for assistance.

Penalties for breaching DVOs

When the conditions of a domestic violence protection order are breached, the breach is a criminal matter. If you are charged with breaching a domestic violence protection order, you will be required to attend court and this may result in a criminal record. The penalty for breaching a domestic violence order can be up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 240 penalty units (currently, $31,332).

Alternatively, a court may impose a penalty that you undertake community service, be placed on a good behaviour bond, or comply with a probation order. The actual penalty that you receive is at the discretion of the court and will depend on the seriousness of the offence, any mitigating factors and the surrounding circumstances.

Conclusion

A DVO can be used to protect children who have been exposed to domestic violence. It can also be used to protect or restrain a young person who has been involved in domestic violence in the context of an intimate relationship. Breaches of DVOs can attract serious penalties, so it is important to obtain an order with the appropriate conditions for the situation.

If you require legal advice or representation in a domestic violence matter or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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