Children and domestic violence protection orders
When applying for, or making a domestic violence protection order, you must let the magistrate know if there are any current family law orders or proceedings in the family law courts about your children.
A request can be made for your children to be included on a domestic violence protection order to protect them from violence. The law says a child has been exposed to violence if they hear, see, or 'otherwise experience' domestic violence, including helping a family member who has been hurt as a result of domestic violence or seeing damaged property in the home.
Family law orders, parenting orders and domestic violence protection orders are complex, and you should get legal advice if this applies to you.
If you or your children are at risk of immediate harm, call the police. In an emergency, call 000 . Get legal advice.
Domestic violence protection orders and parenting orders
The magistrate must consider any family law orders you have before deciding to make or change (vary) a domestic violence order. If you have a family law order about your children, or if there are proceedings in the family law courts about your children, you must:
- tell the magistrate
- attach a copy of the order to your application for a domestic violence order, or give a copy to the magistrate.
A magistrate can consider changing your family law order if:
- the conditions in the order are in conflict with conditions in your domestic violence order
- the conditions in the order could make you, your children or anyone else named in your domestic violence application unsafe.
For example, if your family law order allows the respondent to come to your home to collect your children and these visits lead to verbal abuse, threats or any other act of domestic violence, the magistrate can change the family law order to make the collection point away from where you live. The magistrate can also discharge or suspend your existing parenting order if they’re satisfied it would be unsafe for you or the children to continue spending time with the respondent.
If you have a domestic violence protection order and you later apply to a family law court for a parenting order or an order about your children, you must tell the court about the domestic violence order.
If you have a domestic violence protection order and a family law order that are inconsistent, you should get legal advice.
Can a child apply for, or respond to, a domestic violence protection order?
Children under 18 can only be the applicant or a respondent to a domestic violence protection order if they’re in, or have been in an:
- intimate personal relationship (married, defacto, registered relationship, engaged, couple)
- informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living, like dressing and cooking for them)
Children can’t be an applicant or respondent to a domestic violence protection order if it relates to a family relationship. A child can’t apply for an order against their parent or guardian and a parent or guardian can’t apply for an order against their child.
If someone applies for a domestic violence protection order against a child, copies of the documents served on the child must be given to one of their parents. The child shouldn’t be served at school, unless there is no other way to serve them.
Including children on a domestic violence protection order
You can request for your children to be included on a domestic violence protection order to protect them from violence. This includes your children and any other children living with you (ie any children spending time at your home on a regular or ongoing basis). This includes step-children or other children who spend time at your home on weekends or school holidays. It can also include an unborn child (the order would have a condition that takes effect when the child is born).
Children can be included on a domestic violence protection order if the magistrate thinks it’s necessary or desirable to protect the child from domestic violence. The law says a child has been exposed to domestic violence if they hear, see or ‘otherwise experience’ domestic violence. This could include:
- helping a family member who has been hurt as a result of domestic violence
- seeing damaged property in the home.
If the magistrate knows you have children living with you or regularly visiting your home, then they must consider including those children on the domestic violence protection order.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if:
- you or your children are at risk of domestic or family violence or abuse
- you need help to work out a plan to leave a relationship safely
- you want to apply for a domestic violence protection order
- someone has applied for a domestic violence protection order against you
- you have been issued with a police protection notice
- police have made an application for a domestic violence protection order against you or your partner
- you want to change a domestic violence protection order
- you had to leave your home because of violence but your name is still on the lease
- you had an order interstate or overseas and want to register it in Queensland
- you have been asked to attend family dispute resolution but have concerns for your safety.
Get legal advice
We may give legal advice and help about domestic and family violence.
The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.
Women's Legal Service gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service provides legal and counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffering from the direct and indirect effects of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Family Relationship Advice Line is a free national telephone service giving help to families affected by relationship or separation issues, including parents, grandparents, children, young people, step-parents and friends.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.
Who else can help?
These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.
Queensland Police Service responds to emergency situations (eg if there is violence or you or your children have been threatened). If you think you’re in immediate danger, call 000.
Domestic and Family Violence Court Assistance Service gives information about domestic violence and helps with applications in some courts in Queensland. Court assistance workers can also help with legal aid applications and referrals to other services.
DV Connect gives counselling, information, referral and help including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence. They also manage the Pets in crisis project arranging foster care for pets while people affected by domestic violence are in temporary accommodation.
Mensline (DV Connect) is a free, confidential telephone counselling, referral and support service for men.
Immigrant Women's Support Service offers free confidential, practical and emotional support to immigrant and refugee women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their children who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.
Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.
Last updated 18 April 2023
If you have a general question for Legal Aid Queensland, please use the general question form or call 1300 65 11 88, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.