Domestic violence and family law: what can I do for my children?

It is every parent’s duty to provide the best upbringing possible for their own children. No child should ever have to experience or witness abuse, but keeping young ones protected can be a hard task in a troubled home.

If your child has been the victim of domestic violence or abuse, or you worry that they will be, there are various services you can turn to for help and to look out for your family. Following are some of the options available for child care and protection in New South Wales.



 An AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) is an Order made by a court against a person, it can provide protection for people who are worried about their safety.

An ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) is a specific type of AVO available for people who have suffered at the hands of someone they have a close relationship with.

To apply for an AVO or ADVO, you can get help from the police or apply yourself through the court. East Coast Law Family Law can give advice if you want to take the second route.

 Court intervention


 If you have a violent partner who refuses to seek help, you can arrange an intervention through the Children’s Court. This requires your partner to take action that can help to end the cycle of domestic violence.

The Children’s Court has the best interests of the state’s youngest citizens at heart. Depending on the case, they may be able to help in several ways, such as:

  • Provide referrals to services that parents can attend voluntarily (such as parenting classes)
  • Make it a requirement that a parent goes to a particular service (for example, drug and alcohol services)
  • Find a safe option for the child or children, perhaps by removing them from the care of their parents (such as placing them with a family member or into foster care)

Parent Capacity Orders


 Another way to seek help for your child and deal with the root problem is through a Parent Capacity Order. These can only be requested by Community Services, with the decision made through the Children’s Court.

While the court has the power to send you to certain classes or services, the first step is for the parents to try to come to a solution themselves. This requires parents to identify a fault or deficiency in their parenting that may be harming their child and to come up with progressive steps to solve it.

If this alone is not successful, the court will require parents to participate in programs designed to improve their parenting skills and address the root cause of their problems. This could include going to classes, joining a programme, accepting treatment or going to therapy sessions.

If someone ignores a Parent Capacity Order, they run the risk of having their child taken away from them.

Contact Orders


 If a child is removed from a parent’s custody, that parent may be given a Contact Order. This lays out how often they can meet, how regularly they can see their child and whether that time should be supervised or unsupervised.

Depending on the child’s circumstances – for example, if they are in foster care – a Contact Order may be required for other relatives as well.

 Where to get more help


When you need help to provide the best quality of care for your child, there are several places you can turn to for help. In NSW and Australia, these include:

Domestic Violence Line

1800 65 64 63

Legal Aid

1800 551 589


1800 737 732

To learn more about child protection services, you can download our free ebook, Care and Protection.


For more information about what to do in a domestic or family violence situation, you can download our free ebook, Domestic and Family Violence: How to get support in domestic violence relationships.

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