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Domestic Violence Orders in the Northern Territory

Domestic Violence Orders in the Northern Territory can be made by the police (in urgent situations) or the Magistrates Court. They are intended to protect a person who is in a domestic relationship, their property and sometimes their children from future domestic violence. They contain conditions that the person committing the violence will have to follow while the order is in force. The application must be on the approved forms which are available at the court or online. The law about applying for a Domestic Violence Order in the Northern Territory is the Domestic and Family Violence Act.

The police can make an order without having to apply to the Court if it is needed urgently, or if it is not practicable to go to the court for an order.  A copy of the police domestic violence order must be given to the other party as soon as practicable. That party is then required to attend in court on the date set out in the police DVO to explain to the court why the order should not be confirmed by the court.

What is a domestic relationship?

  • A family relationship, including people in a defacto relationship which includes a same sex relationship, and a marriage which includes a traditional marriage in accordance with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custom.
  • Relations – this includes fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-parents and in-laws, and other relations according to Aboriginal tradition or social practice.
  • People who are engaged, or who are or have been dating. The relationship can be either a same sex or opposite sex relationship.
  • People who live or have lived together, including as house/flatmates. It also includes someone who is in a family relationship with a person you have lived with.
  • People who are or have been in a carer’s relationship. This is where you are dependent on the ongoing paid or unpaid care provided by another, whether or not you live together.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence includes:

  • Hurting or physically harming you, or attempting to do so.
  • Damaging, threatening to damage, or attempting to damage your property, including harming any pet.
  • Intimidating you or causing you to fear that domestic violence will be committed against you.
  • Harassing you, including contacting you regularly by email, phone, letters, text messages or personally after you or someone else has told them not to.
  • Stalking you by deliberately following you or watching you or waiting for you on at least two separate occasions.
  • Economically abusing you. This includes things such as selling your property without your consent, pressuring you for money, or not allowing you access to money.

Who can apply for an order?

The following categories of person can apply for an order:

  • An adult who is in a domestic relationship with the defendant.
  • A young person who is between 15 and 18 and in a domestic relationship with the defendant. The court will only allow them to apply for a domestic violence order on their own behalf if satisfied that they understand what the order means and why they are applying for it.
  • An authorised adult acting on behalf of another adult or child who is in a domestic relationship with the defendant.
  • Family & Children’s Services.

Making an order

An order in the Northern Territory can only be made to protect you if there are reasonable grounds for you to fear that the defendant will commit violence against you in the future. As well as the allegations of violence the court will consider other matters they think are relevant. The application can be dealt with by the court itself or by a clerk of the court if the defendant has been advised of the hearing and doesn’t come to court. The court will reconsider the application if the clerk doesn’t make the order. If it is made it will be an interim order for your protection until the hearing of your application.

The defendant can agree to the orders being made, or being made but with different terms if you agree to those terms. If there is no agreement as to the orders being made, the Magistrate will adjourn the matter to another day for a hearing. Interim orders may be made for your protection until that date. You should get legal advice if your application is adjourned for a hearing. At the hearing the court will hear from both of you and any witnesses and then either refuse your application or will make final orders in some or all of the terms you asked for in your application.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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