Going to court as an applicant

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Once your application for a domestic violence order has been filed, you will receive a date for your first appearance at court, which you must attend.

If the police apply for the protection order, a police prosecutor will prosecute the application in court.

If you’ve hired a lawyer, they will represent you in the courtroom. As the aggrieved, you may be eligible for a lawyer funded by Legal Aid.

You can also represent yourself in court and request a support person be with you.

If you want representation but can’t afford a lawyer, contact:

Watch our video: What happens in court.

Safety in the courtroom

The respondent has a right to appear in the courtroom, which you may find difficult. Read about getting protection from the court if you’re worried about your safety in court.

Note: The respondent must not ask you questions directly; they must do so through a lawyer.

A mention

Your first court appearance is a ‘mention’, usually within a few weeks unless the matter is urgent. During this time, the respondent is given a copy (or served) with the application.

At the mention, the magistrate may ask questions about your application. Both you (the ‘aggrieved’) and the respondent can present your cases:

  • If you and the respondent both appear at the mention and agree on the order, the court may make a protection order (domestic violence order) then.
  • If you both appear but disagree on the order, the court may set a date for another court appearance (a hearing).
  • If the respondent doesn’t appear at the mention and has received copy of your application, the court can make a final order without them.

A hearing

At the hearing, the court hears all the evidence and decides whether to make a domestic violence order.

If you have a representative, they will come to the hearing. Otherwise the magistrate will talk you through the process if you are representing yourself.

Explain what has happened and provide any evidence you can to prove the behaviours you describe. Also bring any witnesses who can give evidence for you.

Appealing a decision

You or the respondent can appeal the magistrate’s decision. Lodge your appeal at the District Court within 28 days of the decision. Get legal advice if you wish to appeal.

Things to note

  • It may take a while for your turn in the court, as several protection matters are heard on the same day. It’s best to set aside the whole day to come to court for a mention.
  • Courthouses have no childminding facilities and it’s inappropriate for children to be in the courtroom. You should make other childcare arrangements while you’re in court.

More information