An apprehended violence order (AVO) is a court order that will restrict your freedom to go certain places or act in certain ways towards another person. The most common AVO is a domestic apprehended violence order (ADVO) which involves the protection of someone you currently share or have previously shared a domestic relationship.

The AVO application will outline different conditions that you must comply with for a set period of time. If you agree to the conditions outlined in the AVO and follow the conditions for the set period of time the AVO is finalised and the conditions removed.

Having an AVO against you is not a criminal offence and will not appear on your criminal record. As it is not a criminal offence it should not impact your ability to travel. However if you breach a condition of the AVO you are committing a serious criminal offence which may lead to severe penalties. If a breach does occur it is likely a criminal conviction will be recorded on your criminal record and you could receive a term of imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of $5,500.

In addition to personal restrictions and possible legal penalties an AVO can impact other aspects of your life which will be discussed below.

Can I have an ADVO removed if my partner and I get back together?

An ADVO is often brought against a person following a relationship dispute or an isolated argument whereby the police are contacted and an ADVO issued against one of the parties. It is important to understand that the police have an obligation to protect suspected victims and will often take out the ADVO even if the protected person does not want the ADVO.

If you and the protected person would like to remove the conditions of the ADVO an application to revoke the ADVO must be provided to the Court requesting its removal. The police must also be notified who either will agree or disagree to the removal of the ADVO. If the police agree to the ADVO being removed the Court matter will be fairly brief with the Magistrate revoking the ADVO at the consent of both parties.

However if the police do not agree to the removal of the ADVO the Court matter will be much longer as the Magistrate will need to consider all the circumstances of the ADVO and make a decision whether it is proper to revoke the ADVO.

Can I go and collect my belongings?

If the ADVO restricts your ability to enter or go within a certain distance of a house where you have personal belongings you can arrange to collect the items by requesting a property recovery order. A property recovery order can be requested by you or the protected person and can be approved by:

  • A senior police officer
  • The Court when making an interim ADVO
  • The Court when making a final ADVO.

It is recommended you write a list of the items you wish to collect so it can be approved by the protected person. In most cases a police officer will come with you to collect the property however another nominated person is able to attend the property to collect the property if that is more appropriate.

My partner never wanted the ADVO and the police won't remove it. What can we do?

The police have a very important obligation to protect vulnerable people and alleged victims in our community. This puts the police in a difficult position when a suspected victim of domestic violence does not want an ADVO. There are risk factors to be considered such as the possibility that the alleged perpetrator is pressuring the protected person to withdraw the application or the risk that if the application is withdrawn further domestic violence occurs.

With this is in mind it is very common for police to take an AVO out on behalf of people who do not want the ADVO or to oppose the removal of a police initiated ADVO. If you or your partner never wanted the ADVO you are entitled to request the police remove it however if police will not remove the ADVO you have the following options:

  1. Agree to the conditions without admitting to the allegations against you
  2. Oppose the AVO and refer the matter for a contested hearing.

If you agree to the ADVO you or the protected person can apply to the Court revoke or vary the final ADVO at any time following the process outlined above.

Will the AVO impact me seeing my children?

Whether or not an AVO will impact contact with your children will depend on the conditions of the order and whether your children are listed as protected persons.

A common complication with access to children relates to conditions that restrict contact or distance between parties and those parties have shared custody of their children. The issues usually arise with arranging children drop offs and pick ups. To overcome this you can request a senior police officer or the Court make additional orders or modified orders such as:

  • In relation to contact add the following: 'unless the contact is as agreed in writing between you and the parent(s) about contact with children'
  • In relation to distance add the following: 'except for the purposes of picking-up and dropping off the children'.

If there is a current and enforceable parenting plan the arrangements outlined in the parenting plan will override any AVO conditions.

If your children are listed as additional protected persons on the ADVO the ability to see them may be more complicated as the conditions of the ADVO apply to all persons listed. This commonly occurs if the children are present during an argument or incident and the police form the view they also require protection. How this will impact the contact with your children depends on the conditions of the ADVO.

In order to have the children removed from the ADVO you can request the senior police officer dealing with the order vary the application or apply to the Court the vary the application which follows the same process as outlined above.

How will an AVO impact other aspects of my life?

If you have an AVO taken out against you, you will be asked to attend Court however an AVO is not a criminal offence and will not appear on your criminal record. However, it is important to know there are impacts on other aspects of your life. Some of these are outlined below:

Firearm Licence

A provisional or interim AVO will automatically suspend a NSW firearm licence and a final AVO will result in the revocation of a NSW firearm licence. Further anyone who has been listed as a defendant in a final AVO is prohibited from holding a firearm licence for a 10 year period.

If a final AVO is revoked by the Court prior to it's expiration the automatic restrictions on any future NSW firearm licence may not apply. It is recommended you contact our office for further guidance in this regard.

Working with Children Check

Having an AVO against you may affect your eligibility to obtain employment with children as any employment with children requires the completion of a 'working with children check'. This check will show any final AVO's listing children and may result in you not being eligible for the job.

Family Law and AVOs

One of the many considerations the Family Court of Australia takes into account when assessing the best interests of a child and appropriate parenting orders is the circumstances and nature any prior or current provisional, interim or final AVO's. With this in mind any AVO listing you as the defendant will be examined in current or future family law proceedings.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.