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Family Violence Orders in Canberra

There are three types of court order available in the ACT in situations where one person fears family violence or personal violence from another person. The type of order that should be sought depends on the relationship between the person seeking the order (the protected person, or applicant) and the other party (the respondent). This article deals with family violence orders in Canberra and surrounds.  

Three types of orders

The three types of protective orders that ACT courts are empowered to make are as follows.

Family Violence Orders (FVOs) apply where there is, or has been, a family, domestic or intimate relationship between the parties.

Workplace Protection Orders (WPOs) apply when a business or an employee of a business requires an order to protect their workplace and/or employees from conduct that relates to that workplace.

Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) apply to cases where a person requires a protective order but there is neither a family relationship nor a workplace relationship between the parties.

What Is Family Violence?

Family violence is defined broadly under ACT legislation. The definition is contained in Section 8 of the Family Violence Act 2016 which states that family violence includes:

  • physical violence or abuse;
  • sexual violence or abuse;
  • economic abuse;
  • emotional or psychological abuse;
  • threatening behaviour;
  • coercion 
  • behaviour that controls or dominates the family member and
  • causes them to fear for their safety or wellbeing
  • exposing a child to family violence
  • property damage
  • harming an animal
  • stalking

Basis For Family Violence Orders in Canberra

ACT courts may make an FVO if satisfied that there has been family violence by the respondent against the affected person and that the person has reasonable grounds to fear family violence by the respondent.

Conditions of Family Violence Orders in Canberra

Family violence orders in Canberra can impose a number of restrictions. These typically include the following:

  • Not to contact with the protected person and people closely associated with them;
  • Not to communicate with the protected person or to do so under particular circumstances (for example, in the presence of a third person or in writing);
  • Not to attend specified locations;
  • Not to engage in personal or family violence;
  • Not to engage other people to do any of the above things.
  • Require the return of personal property to the protected person.

Breaching an VRO

It is a criminal offence to breach the conditions of a VRO. The maximum penalty for this offence is two years imprisonment a fine of $10,000, or both.

What is the process for making a Violence Restraining Order in Canberra?

When a person files an application for a violence restraining order in Canberra, this application will then be served on the defendant.

If the defendant consents to the order, the order will generally be made at the first court mention.

If the defendant does not intend to consent to the making of a final order, they should lodge an objection form. The court may make an interim order to protect the affected person until the contested hearing.

The matter will then be listed for a contested hearing where each side will call evidence and make submissions. The court will assess the evidence and then decide whether the order is warranted or not.

Family Violence Orders And Related Criminal Charges

If a person is facing criminal charges involving domestic or family violence, the police may also seek an FVO. In this situation, the FVO matter will not be determined until after the criminal charges are finalised.

It is important to get legal advice about the criminal charges and the impact they may have upon the FVO proceedings.

Firearms Licences

If you hold a firearms licence any FVO that is made against you will affect that licence. The licence will be suspended and any firearms will be seized by police for the duration of the interim order (where applicable). If a final order is made against a person, they will be unable to hold a firearms licence and their guns will have to be sold or surrendered.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to family violence orders in Canberra or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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