What is a domestic violence order?

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A domestic violence order (DVO) is an official document issued by the court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence.

A DVO sets out rules that the ‘respondent’ (the person who has committed domestic violence against you) must obey. It is designed to keep the ‘aggrieved’ (the person who has had violence against them) safe by making it illegal for the respondent to behave in specific ways.

A DVO is a civil court order so it will not appear on the respondent’s criminal history.

However, it is a criminal offence to disobey an order, and this will appear on the respondent criminal history.

Watch our video: What is a domestic violence order?

Types of DVOs

There are two types of DVO: a protection order and a temporary protection order.

Protection order

A protection order is a domestic violence order made by a magistrate in court to protect people in domestic and family violence situations. Most protection orders last for five years; however, the order can be made for a shorter period, or be extended if the court feels it’s appropriate.

Temporary protection order

If you’re in danger right now, you can ask for a temporary protection order and a protection order.

If you need protection urgently, the aggrieved or the police can apply for a temporary protection order, which can be considered early by a magistrate.

A temporary protection order is like a protection order, but it’s for a shorter time to protect those in danger up until the date that a magistrate can decide the application for the full protection order.

Order conditions

Every DVO has a standard condition that the respondent must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved or any other person named on the order, including children, relatives or friends, if they are at risk of violence.

When a court makes a DVO, it sets out specific rules that must be obeyed by the person who has committed the violence.

If a DVO is made against a respondent and they have a weapons licence, they can’t own weapons and their licence will be suspended, or cancelled, and they can’t hold another licence for up to five years.

An order can have other conditions to stop someone:

  • approaching the aggrieved at home or work
  • staying in a home they both currently share or previously shared, even if the house is owned or rented in the respondent’s name
  • approaching relatives or friends (if named in the order)
  • going to a child's school or day care centre.

If you wish to apply to the court for a DVO, list any extra conditions that you want put in the order (beyond the standard condition).

You can apply to vary the order conditions later if circumstances change.

Lodge an Form DV04 - Application to vary a domestic violence order (PDF, 298KB) or (DOC, 182KB) at your Magistrates Court.

What a DVO means

Once in place, the aggrieved and the respondent get a copy of the DVO (the temporary protection order or protection order), as do any adults listed on the order.

Keep your copy of the DVO somewhere safe. If police are ever called to your home for domestic violence, show them the order.

A DVO doesn’t stop you living with, or being in a relationship with, the other person—unless special conditions are added to stop the respondent having contact. Sometimes couples do want to stay together, but safety should always be considered first.

Breaches of an order

It’s a criminal offence to disobey any of the conditions of a temporary protection
order or protection order.

If the respondent breaches the DVO in anyway, the aggrieved should call the police immediately on 000.

The police have a duty to investigate domestic violence and can charge the respondent with breaching the DVO. The respondent would need to appear before the court for a criminal offence.

They could face up to three years in jail the first time they’re found guilty of a breach, and up to five years if they breach again within five years.

DVOs and other orders

A DVO can be made even if the respondent already has a family court order or other type of order in place. The magistrate considers all family law orders in place before deciding to make a DVO.

If you apply for a DVO or have a DVO made against you, tell the magistrate if you have a family law order or if any proceedings are taking place in the family law courts.

Cross applications

A cross application is where both parties apply for DVOs against each other. If you think the other party has made an application against you (or is planning to), tell the court and the court will try to hear both matters together.