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23 May 2021|Alienated Child, Custody, Family Law, Parental Alienation, Restraining Orders, Targeted Parent 

Are restraining orders a shield to protect victims or a weapon used to emotionally, socially and financially destroy the other parent?

Children are left suffering in silence, unable to see a parent they love or other family members associated with that parent.

Restraining orders (RO’s) and Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s) are not being used for their intended purpose. Police and courts issue restraining orders to protect victims, not so those orders can be used as a tactic to gain the upper hand in a divorce or a child custody matter along with the financial rewards they bring. Many parents are playing the victim where they are in fact, the perpetrator.

Here are some of the many reasons why parents are taking out RO’s/AVO’s:

  •   To gain an advantage in a divorce;
  •   To quickly put a parent out of the house without eviction or a court mention hearing;
  •   To get vengeance;
  •   To control or manipulate a parent, or get leverage in some way;
  •   To put a parent in jail (set up or bait the other parent);
  •   To emotionally and psychologically damage the other parent;
  •   To get financial support or compensation from social services or a victim’s compensation groups;
  •   To misrepresent a parent as being dangerous to officials and or the children;
  •   To give the applicant a chance to relocate far away without the other parent’s consent;
  •   To put the accused under financial pressure and place them in a situation where they will potentially be homeless and be unable to have the children;
  •   To buy them time to manipulate, brainwash and coach the children;
  •   To isolate a parent from their child, including extended family;
  •   To quickly get custody of the children without a hearing;
  •   To stop a parent from modifying custody after the child expresses a desire to live with them;
  •   To gain 100% custody for child support purposes;
  •   To give them a reason to tell the children that the other parent is so  dangerous that they had to get a restraining order to protect  themselves;
  •   To gain benefits from victim support services like a new phone, change locks free of charge;
  •   Socially isolate someone;
  •   To give the applicant justification to badmouth the other parent all over town. To make them look like the child’s protector and saviour and the best parent, which supports their image of “Parent of the Year”;
  •   To keep everything in the house once the other parent is removed;
  •   To allow the complainant to get a new boy/girlfriend into the picture and the other parent out.

Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders have severe consequences for the alleged offender and the relationship between the alleged offender and his or her children since the order would likely strain the parent-child relationship. A restraining order is something no one should consider obtaining without a serious, valid threat to their physical safety.

 “The loss of a child is devastating. Alienated parents experience a complex grief for the loss of their child who is still alive. This loss is compounded by being denigrated and vilified as part of the alienation process. Alienated parents experience despair, helplessness, frustration, anger and confusion. Many alienated  parents experience significant financial and emotional costs associated with trying to find a resolution in a legal system and mental health services that do not understand parental alienation.” ~ Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation

Some divorce lawyers are routinely and unethically advising their clients to take out an AVO/RO and move interstate – a dirty tactic used in the Family Court.

When an AVO/RO is placed on a parent, there is nowhere to go for free legal help or advice if you are falsely accused as the perpetrator. You cannot obtain legal aid to represent yourself, and no free legal advice given to you will encourage you to defend it.

The alleged abuser is put into an emotional pressure cooker; some would say it fits the definition of torture. It grinds people down to where they are exhausted, feel helpless, their thoughts become clouded and they have nowhere to turn. It appears whoever gets in first wins while the other parent spends most of their life defending themselves.

An alleged abuser will then live a life under the magnifying glass. I see many parents being diagnosed with PTSD, complex grief, and depression due to these tactics being used as a tool to erase them from their child’s life.

Hearings take at least six months to be heard, which buys the applicant time to manipulate the children and gain financially.

These cases become complex because the person taking out the RO goes far and wide to spread their story and keep it alive. Where genuine victims of violence I have met throughout my life do not behave this way. They feel ashamed, struggle to talk about the abuse and have very low self-esteem. In some cases, it is apparent, yet those working in this field fail to see the telltale signs of a false allegation.

Many mums and dads are forced to accept the RO “without admissions”, even though they have done nothing wrong. If the order is issued hundreds of kilometres away from the targeted parent, this involves a cost in time and money to attend court to defend the charges.  Some of the parents I support in our group can barely make ends meet because of the psychological impact, the legal costs and the financial abuse that goes hand in hand with the abuse of RO’s and parental alienation.

The alleged abuser’s ability to hold a certain type of employment or secure new employment is majorly affected, especially in jobs for the government where they are required to hold a firearms licence or jobs that involve working with children.

In parental alienation cases, most parents accused of abuse are never formally charged, tried or convicted, because there is little to no evidence to support the allegations made against them, events that most likely never happened (Lorandos et al., 2013). An accused party is never found “innocent”; the best you can hope for is that the charges are “unsubstantiated”. There is no recourse against a false allegation, parents, and misses and defamation proceedings are expensive and difficult to win.

While a restraining order is in place parents can be withheld from children’s lives. Children miss out on seeing their parents on their birthday, school holidays and on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.  Special events like graduation, sports carnivals, and award nights, when the child just wants to spend time with their parent, children miss out.

There are already too many children growing up without a parent in their life. Allowing many a parent to misuse restraining orders and create opportunities to manipulate the children creates severe and long-lasting psychological and emotional problems for these children.

“Alienated children experience a complex grief for the loss of a parent who is still alive. Because this loss is the  result of emotional manipulation, alienated children experience  psychological difficulties associated with this type of trauma and  abuse. Parental alienation causes emotional pain for children. The long-term outcomes of parental alienation on children include: social isolation, fragile sense of self, anger, depression and anxiety.” ~ Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation

With these types of cases, you don’t have to prove anything. In many cases, an allegation is as good as a conviction as there is a presumption of guilt, particularly against men accused of domestic violence. The police and courts hold the view that the right to protection outweighs the right to a fair process.

This is not what these orders were meant for! Reform is urgently needed to stop this abuse of processes designed to protect genuine victims of domestic violence, not to facilitate parental alienation of children from loving parents.


Lorandos, D., Bernet, W., & Sauber, S. R. (Eds.). (2013). Parental alienation: The handbook for mental health and legal professionals. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

You can follow Amanda on Facebook: Amanda Sillars or through the organisation Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation and Parental Alienation Australia community page.

Parental Alienation Awareness Day in Australia is 12th October; make sure you mark this date in your calendar.

[Originally published on Linkedin 07 June 2017]


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