Why are we talking about family law and domestic violence? The Christmas holidays are pretty stressful, especially if there has been a split in the family or there are domestic troubles. It is a time when families are under financial and emotional stress. Add alcohol and very hot days to that stress and people can do things they wouldn’t normally do.

These days just after Christmas mark a common changeover period for children from divided families. Most of the time it works fine but every now and then, someone decides to not bring or return the children and emotions can run high. Sometimes it is a mistake, sometimes it is deliberate and reacting the wrong way can devastate children and potentially lead to criminal charges.


You will never look at a McDonalds car park the same way again. Because McDonald’s has CCTV, it is very often the non-threatening changeover venue of choice. However, it doesn’t stop conflict occurring. Some reminders for staying out of trouble if you are trying to co-parent a divided family this year include:

1. Put the children first…Always!

It is not about either of you. Yes it sucks when your ex makes changeover hell or is late or turns up with someone you hate, or fails to show with the kids on some weak excuse. Don’t react. Chances are your family lawyer won’t be working over the holidays or if they are, the one on the other side won’t be.

Keep it cool in front of the kids. Don’t speak badly to your ex. Just file it away and make a note for your lawyer. Christmas is about the kids not grown ups and sometimes people try to use children as weapons.

2. Is there an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (‘AVO’) in place?

This one is a biggie whether you are the protected person or the person being restrained. Everyone has to be safe but a breach of an AVO is a criminal offence carries potential goal terms. It can ruin your life and make it harder to see or spend time with the kids.

AVO’s can save lives but sometimes people try to use them as weapons in family law. If there is one in place, both parties need to be very aware of the terms and how they work. If you breach the Order, the police will almost certainly arrest you and you might need bail.

Sometimes people reach an agreement that is not in keeping with the terms of the Court Order. Only a Court can vary the Order, it cannot be done by simple agreement between the parties.

If you are unsure how an Order impacts on you, then call National Criminal Lawyers who can give advice or arrange for an application to vary an order in the right circumstances.

3. Are there Family Law Orders in Place?

Sometimes, mums and dads need Court Orders to help them learn to parent as two separate families. Orders can set out how much time kids spend with each parent and set out changeover times and places.

Parenting Orders can also change the way an AVO operates. You might be allowed to contact protected person at certain times in relation to the children.

Frustration with family law at this time of year can often lead to people angry phone calls, texts, social media posts and even family getting involved. It can be really tempting to vent or let them know what you think of them. Taken too far, these can result in criminal charges. Well meaning family and friends can potentially cause a breach of an AVO by having a go at your ex about the children. You can potentially go to goal because of something you haven’t said or done.

If the other party has not brought the children, or is making things difficult. Don’t keep calling, don’t leave angry messages on their phone or social media. Things that might seem a good idea at the time can see you in Court on domestic violence charges.

It is important to know your rights and obligations. If something goes wrong with parenting orders over the holidays, make a diary note and contact your family lawyer.

4. Can you call the police if your ex breaches the family law orders?

The short answer to that is “NO”. State Police are not allowed to get involved in family law unless by order of the Court such as a “Recovery Order.” They will do a welfare check if there is genuine concern over the safety and wellbeing of a person, especially a child but they cannot be used as a weapon.


Things go wrong at Christmas, financial troubles, the noisy toys, arguing over the last prawn, the strange uncle who always goes a glass too far and the family argument that seems to be the inevitable result of groups of people forced into each other’s company, alcohol, heat, stress and human nature.

Walk away. Don’t drive. Leave the situation and give it time to de-escalate. It is not about who is right or who should have the kids or what should happen. If you are in danger then call Triple-O, If it is less urgent, call the police. If not, go for a walk or to a friend’s and cool down. Make a diary note of what happened and relax as best you can.

A Court will be more sympathetic to a person who has disengaged from a heated situation.


The Court lists are invariably full just after Christmas. Criminal offences carry a range of penalties from fines up to full time goal. Simply being charged can stop you from travelling overseas to some countries. We at National Criminal Lawyers have a lot of experience in getting the best result for you on sentence or running defended hearings  in:










For some of these you might need BAIL.


Have you been charged with a domestic violence offence or other offence related to too much Christmas Cheer? Do you think you might be charged? Then you need to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. There are significant penalties including very long gaol terms. You need the best advice you can get.  Call Michael and his team of expert lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers on  02 9893 1889 |  0415 179 794



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