If you are in, or have been in, a domestic relationship with a person you consider is being violent towards you, you may be able to apply for a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act 1995.
In circumstances where urgent protection is required, the court may make a temporary protection order, usually on the day the application is made. Such an application will be made on a without notice basis so that the person who is believed to be apprehending the violence (the respondent) would not be told that the application has been made. Notice will only be given to them once an order is in place.
Not limited to physical abuse
The court may make a protection order if it is satisfied that the respondent is using, or has used, domestic violence against the applicant, or a child of the applicant’s family, or both and the making of the order is necessary for the protection of the applicant, or child of the applicant’s family, or both.
The meaning of violence under the Domestic Violence Act is not limited to physical abuse; it is possible to apply for and obtain a protection order in circumstances where the alleged abuse is of a psychological nature.
If a temporary protection order is made, the person against who it is made (the respondent) has three months to defend the application. After three months, it would become final and remain in place until an application was made to discharge it.
In the case of a non-urgent application, the person who is
alleged to have been apprehending the violence (the respondent) would be served
with the application and would have the opportunity to submit their evidence to
the court where a Judge would then consider if a protection order is necessary.
Conditions of a protection order
If a protection order is made, there are certain standard conditions that apply to every protection order. These include that the respondent must not:
- physically or sexually abuse the protected person; or
- threaten to physically or sexually abuse the protected person; or
- damage, or threaten to damage, property of the protected person; or
- engage, or threaten to engage, in other behaviour, including intimidation or harassment, which amounts to psychological abuse of the protected person; or
- encourage any person to engage in behaviour against a protected person, where the behaviour, if engaged in by the respondent, would be prohibited by the order.
Changes with effect from 1 July 2019
From 1 July 2019 all protection orders (including those made before this date) will have extra standard conditions attached to them. These changes concern:
- contact between the respondent and the protected person(s); and
- the type of behaviour the respondent must not commit.
If the person protected by the protection order wishes to have contact with the respondent, the protected person must provide their consent in writing (unless a Court has directed a special condition restricting such contact).
If the protected person changes their mind about contact
with the respondent, they can withdraw their consent to contact at any time;
they do not need to do so in writing.
Behaviour by the respondent
If a protection order is made, the conditions that the respondent will be subject to will be expanded to include the following prohibitions:
- ill treatment of a domestic pet or another animal that is important to someone or their family;
- behaving in a harassing manner e.g. loitering near where the protected person lives or works;
- causing disruption to the care of someone who requires it because of their age, disability or health.
The definition of family violence will also expand to include:
- controlling behaviour or coercion;
- abuse related to a dowry;
- an act, or several acts, that form a pattern of behaviour even if they may seem to be minor or trivial.
How we can help
Applying to obtain, or defending the making of, a protection order can be a very stressful time. If you require further advice about these matters, please feel free to contact any member of our Family Law Team.
If you fear for your immediate safety and you believe that you require immediate protection, you should call 111.