Domestic Violence

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Domestic violence occurs when one person behaves in a way that is controlling or dominating, which causes another person to have fear for their safety and wellbeing.

Often family law proceedings also involve domestic violence matters.

If you have fears for your safety and wellbeing, or that of your children, you may wish to apply to the court for a protection order. A temporary protection order is also available if your fears are immediate.

The Law

An application for a protection order is usually heard at your local Magistrates Court.

The applicant may be an aggrieved party or the police. The respondent is the person against whom the application is made.

You must satisfy the court of the following 3 conditions in order to obtain a protection order:

1. A relevant relationship exists between the parties

The following are examples of “relevant relationships”:

  • Spouses, including former spouses and de facto partners
  • Parties who are engaged to be married
  • Parties who are in a relationship
  • Parties to an informal care arrangement
  • Relatives

2. The respondent has committed domestic violence

Domestic violence may not be physical. Examples of behaviour that may constitute domestic violence include:

  • Physical or sexual abuse – punching, hitting, choking, or threatening to do so, forcing a person to participate in sexual acts, damaging someone’s property or threatening to do so
  • Emotional or psychological abuse – stalking, repeated text messaging, making insulting comments, calling someone names, blackmailing or extorting, preventing contact with family and/or friends, controlling someone’s appearance, putting them down, threatening to expose their sexual orientation
  • Economic abuse – denying, withholding, controlling or misusing money or property, or threatening to do so
  • Threatening behaviour – saying things or acting in a way to make someone feel afraid, threating to commit suicide or self-harm
  • Coercive behaviour – forcing, intimidating or manipulating a person to do things they do not want to do, such as sign a contract or a legal document giving another person power over their affairs (example: power of attorney)

3. A protection order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved party from harm

This stage involves the consideration of:

  • The future risk of domestic violence between the parties if no order was made
  • The need to protect an aggrieved party from domestic violence if no order was made
  • Whether imposing a protection order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved party from domestic violence

We accept urgent matters

Conditions

If the court is satisfied of the above test, a protection order may be granted which sets out conditions or “rules” that the respondent must obey.

All protection orders include the condition that the respondent be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved or any other person named in the order.

An aggrieved party can ask for additional conditions which may include:

  • That the respondent not approach the aggrieved at home or work
  • That the respondent not contact the aggrieved, including by phone, text message or on social media
  • That the parties do not live together in the same home
  • That the respondent not attend a child’s school or day care centre.

Varying a Protection Order

Both parties to a protection order may apply to the court to make changes to the order. This may include:

  • Adding or removing conditions on the order
  • Adding or removing people named in the order
  • Extending or reducing the time the order is in force

Defending an Application for Protection Order

There are a number of options available to a person who is defending an application for a protection order. These include:

  • Disputing the application
  • Proposing an undertaking of good behaviour
  • Consenting to the application on a without admissions basis to a good behaviour condition

Breach of a Protection Order

The courts treat domestic violence matters seriously. Having a protection order against you is a civil matter and is not recorded on your criminal record.

However a breach of a protection order is a criminal offence, which may result in you having a criminal record.

Approach

If you are a party to an application for protection it is important that you obtain advice as soon as possible to protect your safety and wellbeing. Often matters can be resolved by
agreement without proceeding through the court system further.

The immediate risk for a respondent is a criminal charge arising from a technical breach which could have long-term consequences. For this reason it is advisable to know of your obligations and rights early in the process.

With over 20 years of combined experience in domestic violence matters, we can advise you of your options and the best steps to move your matter forward to a final outcome.

Knowing your rights and the steps you can take is just a phone call away.

We focus on resolving your matter.

Experienced court representation from start to finish.