Children and domestic violence

Abusive partners sometimes tell the victim that they have to stay in the relationship, or else they will have no rights to see the children. This is not true.

If you have a child together or have been caring for a child together or have been caring for a child together, then your rights will depend on what is recorded on the birth certificate or whether there are any exisiting court orders, such as family  law orders or apprehended violence orders. if you leave an abusive relationship , your children still have a right to a relationship with you. it is best to talk to a solicitor about your options in relation to children.

Children can experience domestic violence as:

  • Witnesses to domestic violence. This includes seeing or hearing abuse, seeing physical signs after the violence or witnessing the effects of domestic violence on the abused person.
  • Weapons of abuse. An abusive partner can use access to their children as a form of abuse and control. They may try to turn children against the other partner or undermine the other partner’s parenting role.
  • Victims of abuse. Children may be physically or emotionally abused by the abusive partner (or even in some cases by the abused partner).

Children who experience domestic violence, whether in same-sex or heterosexual relationships, can suffer from a wide range of negative effects from short term physical injuries to long term emotional or psychological trauma. All children who experience domestic violence are affected by it in some way.

All service providers in NSW are legally bound to report to the Department of
Community Services if they believe a child is experiencing domestic violence and is at risk of serious harm. They will usually tell the client they are going to do this and what the possible consequences might be.

Under the Family Law Act (1975) biological and adoptive parents automatically have what is known as ‘parental responsibility’ for children. This means they are responsible for all decisions relating to the welfare and upbringing of that child. Non-biological parents and donors, regardless of their relationship with the child, do not have any automatic legal right or responsibilities over a child unless there is a Parenting Order issued by the Family Court.

If you are experiencing domestic violence and you have children with your partner or from a previous relationship you should seek legal advice. The Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) can refer you to appropriate services or the Inner City Legal Centre (1880 244 481) can advise you.