What a protection order does
Care of children and protection orders
Parenting orders under the Care of Children Act
If you apply for a protection order you can also apply for a parenting order under the Care of Children Act 2004 at the same time, to establish new arrangements for day-to-day care and contact. The respondent can also apply for a parenting order. (See the chapter “Parents, guardians and caregivers”.)
When a Family Court judge makes a parenting order about arrangements for day-to-day care and contact, a key factor is the need to keep the child safe from all forms of violence, including from family members. If there is, or has ever been, a protection order in force against one of the parents, then the judge must specifically take into account:
- whether the protection order is still in force
- the circumstances in which the order was made, and
- any written reasons given by the judge who made the protection order.
If a judge making a parenting order is deciding about contact with a particular parent and isn’t satisfied that the child would be safe with that parent, the judge can order that any contact between the child and that parent must be supervised.
Supervised contact means that contact is overseen by an approved organisation, or by a suitable person approved by the Family Court, such as a relative or family friend. It means that contact will happen in a safe, controlled situation. The cost of supervised contact is paid by the government.
Temporary (“interim”) parenting orders
If you’ve applied for a protection order, the Family Court can make a temporary (“interim”) parenting order dealing with day-to-day care or contact arrangements for your child, if this is necessary to protect the child’s welfare and best interests. This can be done even if you haven’t applied for a parenting order.
If the court does make a temporary parenting order, you’ll need to apply for a full parenting order under the Care of Children Act as soon as possible. (See the chapter “Parents, guardians and caregivers”.)
Can a respondent have contact with the children?
Because of the non-contact conditions in a protection order, the respondent usually can’t have any contact with children who usually or regularly live with you, the applicant. This means that if you and the respondent are co-parents, usually you’ll have sole day-to-day care of the children, and the respondent can’t have contact with them for as long as the protection order is in force.
However, the respondent can have contact with the children if:
- you’ve agreed to the respondent living with you and the children, or
- contact is allowed under a parenting order or other court order, or under a written parenting agreement between you and the respondent.