If I get an AVO taken out against me, will it affect my rights in a child custody dispute?

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Making a police report (for a ‘police AVO’) or filling out an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) form (for a ‘private AVO’) can be relatively quick and straightforward. But it can potentially have far-reaching consequences for the other person.

Many AVOs are taken out during the context of a domestic relationship breakdown and unfortunately they may be done with underhanded motives, particularly if there are children involved.

But what are the consequences of being the subject of an AVO?

First, it is important to understand that an AVO is not technically a criminal offence.

Many people do not contest an AVO that has been taken out against them, and there may be valid reasons for that decision. An uncontested AVO will normally be finalised “without admissions” and there will therefore be no finding of guilt.

You can go to court on the allocated date and tell the Magistrate that you wish to “accept the AVO without admissions”, and the Magistrate will make that notation on the court papers. This will mean that the contents of the “grounds of complaint” have not been established.

So while contravening an AVO is a criminal offence, merely getting an AVO taken out against you is not.

Choosing not to defend an AVO is cheap and quick. But before agreeing to an AVO, you should think about the potential consequences upon licences such as firearms or security licences, and particularly the impact it may have upon family law proceedings.

AVOs are meant to be for the protection of the Person in Need of Protection ( or ‘PINOP’) for a police AVO or the ‘Applicant’ for a private AVO. But they can also cover anyone who lives with that person, including children. This is the case even though they do not demonstrate any proven offence. And significantly, the fact that an AVO exists is often used by the PINOP or Applicant to suggest that the other person (the defendant) is a violent or otherwise unsuitable parent, even if the defendant accepted the AVO without admissions.

For that reason, many family lawyers that act for AVO defendants will advise their clients not to consent to AVOs, and will often work with criminal defence lawyers to beat the AVO.

While some AVOs are made on legitimate grounds, many are used as a strategic manoeuvre by parents fighting over children.

Fortunately, judges in the Family Law Courts are becoming more and more aware of this, which means that an AVO will not necessarily have a heavy impact on your family law case – especially if you agreed to the AVO without admissions.

AVOs are not the only area where mere allegations can affect a child custody dispute.

In a family law court, allegations of child abuse and violence generally are taken very seriously and can lead to a parent being denied unsupervised access to their child if it is found that there is an unacceptable risk of harm.

While protecting children from abusive parents is no doubt very important, the risk that unfounded claims may be used by one unscrupulous party to achieve as much custody as possible should also be taken into account.

In a leading case of M v M, the Judge could not satisfy himself that sexual abuse HAD occurred “on the balance of probabilities” but he couldn’t rule it out either. On this basis, he deprived a father of access to his daughter after he was accused by his former wife of sexually abusing the child.

The Judge in that case decided that there was an “unacceptable risk” to the child – and didn’t make a definitive finding regarding the allegation.

When the case was appealed, the Judge’s finding was confirmed – and the law is that family law courts do not need to make a finding of guilt in the same way the criminal law courts do before they can make decisions against a party.

This seems inconsistent with the whole premise of law – decisions are supposed to be made on fact, not suspicion.

And this can have substantial implications for those merely accused of committing offences, whether those charges are prosecuted or not, and even if the person is found to be innocent.

All of this creates the unfair situation where, in the Family Court, those accused of very serious crimes do not even have to be prosecuted, let alone found guilty, for a judge to deprive them of contact with their children.

It appears that part of the problem is that dealing with serious allegations like violence and abuse are increasingly becoming a core business for the Family Law Court – although there are convincing arguments why this should not be the case.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.


  1. Rodney paul

    Thank you very much for this info I found it very helpful as I can not afford a lawyer and my ex painter has put a avo out on me and has stop me from seeing my kids as none of the things she has said is untrue I was going to fight the avo but what I have read here that it’s better I don’t and just agree to avo but not after to why it was set and then go to family law to try and see my girls also if you have any one can help me even if it just over the phone would be helpful to me as legal aid can’t help and many phone calls to leave people say they can’t help me it’s so sad a father like me can not see his kids all over there mum .thank you

  2. Daniel

    this whole AVO thing is so unfair. i dont want to ever ever see my ex again. i wanted to leave her so she ran at a table to cause bruising and 2 days later said i pushed her up against a wall. the law is aiding spiteful people to have power. power and control which in essence is domestic violence. i just wanted to leave her and now i may be facing an avo which family law court may say, now you cant see your son. my son loves me so much and the legal system needs to step up and stop aiding violence!

  3. Jo

    There are many valid AVO’s and many forms of abuse. This article is full of personal opinion and claims of it being ‘unfair’ to protect yourself and your children aganist violent behaviours by applying for an AVO are what continues this denial of violent and controlling behaviour and projects blame on others without accountability. No AVO is given without reasonable grounds. As a lawyer, you should be ashamed of this article and your professional requirement to remain factual.

  4. Davey

    “No AVO is given without reasonable grounds.”

    And just because they’re “reasonable” Jo doesnt necessarily make the allegations true!

    I myself have suffered false allegations within the Family Law Court. Because of the false allegations the ex has seen to it that Im to be completely wiped out of my daughters life.

    She has now used the local courts to place an AVO on me, as this will help her in the family law court. She is manipulating the system in the hope of getting what she wants, wasting court time and making light of what an AVO is genuinely for, those that really are in danger.

    Ugar is right, as this is unfair to a parent thats fighting parental alienation in the Family Law Court whilst being slandered in the local court with an AVO. Open your eyes Jo!

  5. Mike Bulmer

    Would it be possible if I put an avo against my wife or will be my ex wife & I would like it just 2 be me & my newest partner then & not my ex plz if u could let me know u have got my email address or here is my mobile & would it be possible if u text me plz instead of calling me thanks cheerz

    Many thanks
    Mr Mike Bulmer

  6. Stixx

    I want to make one thing very clear. If you’re the male in this equation you will not be treated fairly !

    Do not anticipate that Justice will play out the way commonsense says it will.

    I simply suggest that you record everything to protect your lawful interests. It’s that simple.

    The moment she makes a complaint about even the most simple thing that shows you ‘got annoyed with her’ the police will seek an AVO.

    The complication of children in the hands of someone whom is prepared to use them against you or to punish you is horrendous, however, it regularly happens and the description of your ex wife’s conduct tells me this will be a rocky road.

    If I was you I would avoid direct interaction with her. Perhaps a family member can assist each time you think you might have to have direct interaction outside of Family Law mediation.

    You’re a switched on person but again do not think that the Law will be fair or reasonable. Over protect yourself !

  7. Deepak K

    Now a days, ADVO in most cases is a political tool used by some cunning women to get huge no of benefits like protection money, Visa, PR alternate, Child custody (not because they love child but the fact is they want more money from you & use child for that purpose / base), To do negative marketing against you whereas realty is totally opposite. To get sympathy from society & to hide their cunning things or real face & so many other benefits. My lawyer told me that too. Police also so desperate like it’s their KPI and they get some money / promotion or incentive for that to be honest. they should use lie tester or advanced technique (artificial intelligence based) machine before filing any ADVO & should ask 10-15 standard questions from victim i.e. if they are telling their part fully & honestly before putting a blame on defendant or if any conspiracy is planned and some other standard questions to standardize the practice. Today it’s useless & totally unfair. if i want i can do it against anyone very easily by adding 1-2 friends / relatives who will give statement to support my base. Totally bushtit. But this the way where whole system(all entities) makes money. In most cases Defendant is real victim.

  8. jon

    Too many people are getting killed by murder suicide recently and its all because of the unfair bias police approve to throw advo’s around like confetti at a wedding. Life destroying, I actually think the police are starting to take notice of this and now with the senate taking down the family courts we should see a more open reported legal system put in place. I am in no way supporting people who abuse or murder however people especially men in this country are getting pushed way too far by the leftist Marxist men haters like Jo above.

  9. Mark Stokes

    I had a false ADVO order taken out against me by my vindivtive ex-wife. Without it having been before a magistrate it was varied by police 3x
    She was able to construct a legal 100m exlusion zone around her house and parents house where she hid my children for almost 12months. I was never once questioned by police, only handed AVO variations and told its a family law matter. I finally got my day in court, contested the AVO and 2x charges by NSW police. The magistrate dismissed the AVO and the NSW pilice consequently dropped the 2x breach charges. The problem was, the AVO was a tactic by her legal team to start family court proceedings saying that an interim domestic violence order was in place to protect the children and mother. I ordered the transcript from the magistrates court hearing and thought naively that it would help. Sadly the family court circus had begun and what was dismissed in the magistrates court, was now some kind of phantom evidence. I lost almost 3yrs of unsupervised contact with my 4 young children. After being subjected to hair follicle testing for years, n3ver having a posotive result and numerous 3rd party psych assessments, having n3ver been diagnosed with any mental illness and costing more than 30,000. Unbelievable! And after 3yrs and every all3gations possibl3 having been hurled at me, I now have my kids 2days and 3hrs a fortnight. The advice from lawyers costing me 100,000 plus and court staff is to leave the past behind……very difficult when all involved were complicent in the theft of my relationship with my children due to false allegations for 3yrs. My ex now believes she is a victim and this has been reinforced by a system that does no investigation into the fals3 allegations, let alone any consequence for the accuser. WTF!

  10. HM

    I would really love to reach out to some of you posting on here. This is so very real, so many innocence parents are being victimised and made out to be a danger when in fact it’s the other parent, it is so bloody wrong. The courts most of the time are on side with who ever first starts proceedings “most of the time it’s the the guilty” ! “ final gain”, “to get back at their ex, etc”. A friend of mine is going through the same thing but it’s actually the husband that’s destroying her. Long story short her “vindictive” narcissist ex husband had co- parented with her beautiful for approximately 6 years, I thought it was beautiful how they both just loved the kids and did what they had to do for their kids. My friend had moved on from her ex, so did he, BUT he had troubles keeping relationships. He finally found someone who apparently was great “so we all believed” Fast forward one year later my friends ex husband and his new partner whom he decided to Marry pretty much detained and took her babies from school and never returned them. My friend has spent over $50k to fight for them back, she has not seen her poor babies for many years. She is just a normal mum, doesn’t party, doesn’t go out, has never touched drugs, works so hard in a high paying job, was the bread winner in their relationship, supported him and the kids. The justice system is broken terribly. It’s been over 6 years that the father has had both children due to lies and false allegations, “all for financial gain” etc “child support” fast forward the father has now been charge with attempted strangulation of one of her children, not to mention charged for all three accounts that the police prosecutor put to the judge.. My friend desperately wants her other child out of his care. My mind boggles as to why this man can be charged for strangulation of one child but is still allowed to have the other in his care. Go figure ????‍♀️ She’s is doing everything she can again to free her other child but I have no faith in the justice system at all. Like I mentioned above I would really love to chat to anyone of you that has been through this bullshit.

  11. Lee Stoddart

    I can’t believe wot I’m reading not all avos are taking out through spite or trying to manipulate the situation. I’m someone who has experienced violence from a partner and hid it for nearly 20 years because of embarrassment and defending his low actions by blaming myself. I now realise I was being emotionally and physically abused by someone who used the system making excuses for his actions blaming me for pushing him into doing these acts towards me. So when U say the system is unfair towards men and that we women use it to get our own way it is not the case and upsets me that’s wots being focused on. Not the fact that even with avos in place us women still suffer and sometimes worse. So pls think before you judge all the same. There are many many genuine cases out there so respect these people and don’t put us all in the same box.

  12. Nathan

    For the comment above mine and some others….
    As men we are instantly found guilty as soon as your partner or police take out an AVO against us.
    An AVO is to protect which can be great and if a female has been abused and threatened and mistreated then the AVO can be a really good thing….
    We are not putting every woman in the same box but if your a male you are instantly silenced made to stay away 200 meters forced out of your own home that you own and no matter what nothing will go your way until your partner withdraws the AVO or tells the magistrate or the police she does not want the AVO.
    I got drunk once and threatened my wife it was a bad mistake she called the police and boom what came next was really stressful for both me and my partner as she did not want the AVO and for 7 days was not allowed any contact my wife does not drive and found it really hard.
    Im just going to come out and say it we both thought get stuffed I stayed home every day and night after the first night it was freaky cause the cops were out to get me big time my first court day all went my way as my wife said she did not agree with the AVO and the cops were trying to get it extended for a year along with multiple conditions the magistrate told them no and set another hearing for a month later saying she would see how things went over the festive season we got back to court the cops were still going hell bent on the AVO for another 12 months and multiple conditions the magistrate still disagreed as we both did not want the AVO and it was then dismissed.
    The only reason it all ended up going my way was because we both did not want the AVO if your partner wants the AVO and or agrees with the police and your a male then you are screwed absolutely screwed!
    We get thrown to the wolves as soon as the AVO is filed.
    I’m not saying all women but it it is starting to become well known that some are using AVOs as a way to massively manipulate our lives and the situation where some women make false allegations of sexual abuse against our children well that is a certain Guillotine.

  13. Chris

    “I got drunk once and threatened my wife it was a bad mistake she called the police ”
    Sorry, there’s no coming back from this. There is and nor should there be ANY tolerance level for this.
    No sympathy, I’m afraid. If your wife is willing to move on from this she’s an absolute saint and you don’t deserve her.
    In todays climate, you’re a bloody fool!

  14. Nathan

    You can come back from it and I did…
    My wife told the magistrate she did not agree with the AVO I said the same thing and the AVO got dropped…

    The magistrate told the police at court that she was not willing to uphold an AVO just because the police wanted to and both parties (me and my wife) don’t want it.

    Me and my wife are going great now and have just had another baby…

    Life is good and I have learnt a lesson…
    But the police were trying to screw me over and wanted to have the AVO extended for 12 months with numerous conditions without knowing much about me and just judging me from the situation at the time..

    I’ll never ever forget the look on the officers face who was there at court on behalf of the police when he looked at me when the magistrate said she is dropping the AVO.

    It was so easy to tell that he was far from impressed but could do nothing…

    He looked at me in a way that looked like he was thinking I was unbelievably lucky..
    It gave me loads of satisfaction as it was stressful enough with what we had to go through following the AVO so to see it crumble in front of his eyes was great!

    The duty lawyer told me when I got there in the morning that the police are strongly recommending an extension of the AVO…
    Which made me panic even more I thought I was doomed but no! Justice prevailed!

    The police officer who put the AVO on me did not even talk to me once he sighted me for about 10 seconds and that was it he left and the cops told me that night of the incident that it was him who put the AVO on me…

    Having it extended for 12 months would have been hell there are so many things you have to do following an AVO and like I was saying if you’re male then you’re screwed no matter what!

    And if my wife had of been on the side of the police well that would mean supervised time with my boys still to today and a whole load of other problems for me..

    Each case is different and the magistrate gave me a chance like I deserved..
    I had multiple documents explaining things about me and my life…

    I must say she did warn me that if anything like it happens again it was not going to be good for me which is fair enough.

    It was the catalyst for me changing a lot of things in my life so I’m in a way glad it happened..

    But was shocked to see how unfair they treat males some of the people I saw in court and talked to who had an AVO put on them by the police or there wife had there life turned upside down and inside out basically forever!

    A lot of them deserved it but some others it blew my mind on how they were manipulated…

    Anyway peace out take it easy.

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