Having an order made against you
If an application has been lodged
If someone has lodged an application for a domestic violence order (DVO) against you, you will be called ‘the respondent’ on the application and in the courtroom.
A police officer will give you a copy of the application. It’s important that you read the application carefully. The application will include the allegations made against you by the aggrieved (person who will be protected by the order) and a date and time that you need to go to court.
Tell the court staff if you need an interpreter in court and they’ll arrange for an interpreter to assist you on your court date. If you need an interpreter for legal help, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50. They will organise an interpreter in your language and connect you to a legal service.
If you don’t go to court
If you have received an application and don’t go to court when you’re required to, the court can make a final protection order or temporary protection order (two types of DVOs) against you in your absence.
A magistrate may also issue a warrant for police to take you into custody and bring you to court.
At the first court appearance (the mention), the magistrate finds out what is happening with the application. They also consider the conditions requested in the application.
- agree with making the protection order (DVO), whether or not you admit to the facts or that you have committed domestic violence
- ask for an adjournment (postponing the court matter) while you seek legal advice, in which case the magistrate might make a temporary protection order to protect the aggrieved until the next court date
- disagree with making the protection order, in which case the magistrate gives another court date (a hearing) where you must explain why you disagree. You may give evidence and bring witnesses.
Get legal advice before deciding whether to agree or disagree with the application, or ask for a hearing date.
Appealing a decision
You or the aggrieved can appeal the magistrate’s decision. You can lodge an appeal at the District Court within 28 days of the decision.
Get legal advice if you wish to appeal.
If an order has been made against you
If you are in court when the DVO is made, the registry gives you a copy of the order. If you leave court before receiving it, they post it to your address.
If you’re served with a temporary protection order or protection order, it’s very important you obey all the conditions on it. If you don’t, you are committing a criminal offence and may face criminal charges.
Conditions of an order
If the court has made a protection order (or DVO) against you, it has conditions you must follow.
It requires you to be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved or any other person named on the order.
It can also stop you from approaching the aggrieved or staying in a home you’ve shared together.
The order may require you to:
- not contact the aggrieved in any way, including by phone, SMS or social media
- not ask someone else to contact the aggrieved for you
- stay a certain distance away from a particular place, such as the area where the aggrieved lives or works.
There can also be extra conditions added to the order which relate to:
- access to children: as there may be restrictions on seeing your children, or going to their school or day care centre (except when the Family Court has made an order about contact with children)
- another person: as you may be restricted from approaching another person named on the order if the court believes that person has also been exposed to domestic violence.
Any weapons licences held will be affected as a temporary protection order will suspend your weapons licence and a final protection order will cancel your weapons licence. You must give any weapons, and their licences, to a police officer within one day after the court makes the order or you get the order. You can’t apply for a weapons licence for five years from the date of the order. If you are concerned about how this applies to your, or the impact it may have on your employment, seek legal advice.
The court can also make an ‘ouster’ condition which means you, as the respondent, must leave the house you share with the aggrieved—even if you own it or the house is rented in your name.
Before making an ouster condition, the court might ask you for your opinion; however, even if you disagree, the court can still make this order.
If you are ordered to leave your home, the court can allow you to return with a police officer to collect personal items.
DVConnect can put you in touch with services that can support you through this process and help you find alternative accommodation.
Penalties for disobeying an order
A domestic violence order is not a criminal order; however, if you breach it, the police can charge you with the criminal offence of breaching a domestic violence order.
This criminal offence has a penalty of up to three years in jail, and up to five years if you breach the order a second time within five years.
Changing an order
If circumstances change over time, you or the aggrieved can apply to change the order. You can apply to the court to change a condition, the time frame or the people named in it.
A cross application is where two people apply for a DVO against each other. In this case, the court hears both applications together.
The court considers who need protection the most or whether both need protection from each other. There is generally one aggressor in a domestic violence situation, though both might commit domestic violence behaviours.
If you’re present in court and you agree, the court can make an intervention order requiring you to go to a domestic violence intervention program (behaviour change program) and/or counselling.