A family violence intervention order in Victoria is an order of the Court made under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 intended to protect a person from future family violence.
Family violence is behaviour that makes a family member fear for the safety of themselves, their property, or another person or animal. This includes any behaviour that is used to force, control, threaten or dominate a family member, and may amount to physical, emotional, sexual, financial or psychological abuse.
If a child hears or sees family violence they are also covered by the law.
The person protected by the order is called the ‘affected family member’ or the ‘protected person’ and the person the order is against is called the ‘respondent’. If there is an associate of the respondent from whom you also need protection, they are an ‘additional respondent’.
You can apply for a family violence intervention order in Victoria at any Magistrates’ Court if you are over 18 or at the Children’s Court if you are between 14 and 18 or if you are applying for an order for a child.
You can apply for any conditions you think you need to be safe and there are standard conditions on the intervention order application form to help.
For the purposes of a family violence intervention order in Victoria, family members are:
- people who have or had an intimate personal relationship, including married, de facto or domestic partners (whether or not there is or was a sexual relationship)
- children (including any child of an intimate partner) and parents
- relatives by birth, adoption or marriage
- people you treat as family members such as a carer or a person who is related to you within the family structure of your culture.
If you fear for your children’s safety they can be included in your application.
You can apply for a family violence intervention order in Victoria at any Magistrates’ Court. You do not need an appointment. You will have to:
- fill in an application form available from the court counter or the website
- see the Registrar.
Advise the Registrar if the respondent has used or threatened to use or has access to a gun, as they can suspend the respondent’s gun licence and order that all guns be handed to the police. Also tell the Registrar if you need to change parenting orders.
If you do not feel safe and want immediate protection, ask about getting an interim order (you will need to be referred to a magistrate for this) or a warrant to arrest the respondent.
The police in Victoria have to respond to all reports of family violence. They can search the person’s house and take any guns. They can also refer you to services that provide emotional, financial and legal support and may help you to find a safe place to stay if you need to leave your home.
Police can also:
- issue a family violence safety notice if you need immediate protection
- apply on your behalf to the court for an interim order to protect you from family violence until a magistrate can hear all of the evidence
- apply on your behalf for an intervention order (even if you do not want them to – the respondent will be told that this is a police decision). If they apply for an order they will also represent you at court. If the police don’t apply for you, they will explain what action you can take.
- arrest the respondent after applying to the court for a warrant
- make sure that you are safe while the respondent makes arrangements to obey a family violence safety notice, interim order or final order such as by being at the house while the respondent collects their belongings.
Once you have applied for a family violence intervention order in Victoria, you will receive a copy of the application, summons and any interim order. On the hearing day a magistrate considers your application.
If you don’t attend, the magistrate can still make an order, but it may not be in the terms you want. If the respondent contests the application, the hearing may be adjourned. If the respondent doesn’t come to court the magistrate may make an order without them there. If you don’t come to court the magistrate might dismiss the application. At a contested hearing the court will hear all of the evidence and decide whether to make an intervention order or not.
In Victoria, a magistrate can make a final order if a respondent has either:
- used family violence
- assaulted, threatened, harassed or stalked a person
- interfered with or damaged property and is likely to do so again.
A magistrate can also make a final order if you both agree to it being made.
A final order may also include a counselling notice which compels the respondent to attend counselling.
If you or the respondent are unhappy with the magistrate’s decision or with the conditions of the order, you can appeal to the Victorian County Court within one month of the decision.
If the conditions of the family violence intervention order become unworkable either party can apply to the court to vary the order.
If the respondent breaks (breaches) the conditions of an intervention order, a family violence safety notice or a counselling order, they can be charged. If found guilty the maximum penalty is a fine of over $35,000.00 and/or a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 19 November 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.