Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs) in Queensland can have a significant impact on family law matters- particularly those involving parenting arrangements. 

Informing the Court

Under Section 60CF of the Family Law Act 1975, parties involved in family law proceedings are required to inform the court if they are aware of any existing DVOs involving the child or a member of the child’s family. Failure to disclose this information does not invalidate any orders made by the court. There is a legal obligation to disclose.

Assessing Risk of Family Violence

Section 60CG of the Act requires the court to consider the risk of family violence when determining parenting orders. The court must ensure that any orders made do not expose a person to an unacceptable risk of family violence. This assessment involves considering the nature of the DVO, circumstances surrounding its issuance, evidence presented, and any findings made by the court during DVO proceedings.

Prioritising Child’s Best Interests

While the court aims to make orders consistent with existing DVOs, the paramount consideration is the child’s best interests. Section 60CC(2)(a) directs the court to give greatest weight to protecting the child from physical or psychological harm, including exposure to family violence. This may result in parenting orders that override or vary certain conditions of the DVO to prioritise the child’s safety and well-being.

Inconsistencies with Parenting Orders

If a parenting order made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia conflicts with a DVO, the parenting order takes precedence as it is a federal law. However, Section 68R of the Family Law Act allows state courts, including Queensland Magistrates Courts, to amend parenting orders to resolve any inconsistencies with the DVO, ensuring the protection order’s effectiveness is not diminished.

Weapon rather than Shield

DVOs are sometimes misused as a tactical “weapon” in family law disputes, rather than serving their intended purpose as a protective “shield.” Some parties may make false or exaggerated allegations of domestic violence to gain an advantage in parenting or property matters. This can result in unjustified DVOs being granted, which can significantly impact the other party’s rights and access to children. The Family Court will carefully scrutinize DVO applications and evidence to prevent such misuse.

In summary, the presence of a domestic violence order in Queensland is a crucial factor that the Family Court must consider when determining parenting arrangements. The court’s primary objective is to prioritize the child’s safety and best interests while respecting the protective measures outlined in the DVO, even if it means varying or overriding certain conditions to resolve any inconsistencies. 

Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors works collaboratively with some of the best family lawyers Australia wide. Our role is to sit down with you and work out the strategy that will get you the best possible result in accordance with the law. If you have any questions about this article or any other topic of law, please call our team of experts on 1300 066 669.