Domestic Violence Orders: The Courage to Change

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It can be an overwhelming experience when you decide to confront the domestic violence in your life, and it is with this in mind that this article is written; to provide you with an outline of the process involved.

If you are experiencing domestic violence from your partner or former partner, you may consider obtaining an interim Domestic Violence Order.

Such an Order may prevent the alleged aggressor (the “other party”) from:

  1. Having contact with you or your children;
  2. Being at your home or workplace;
  3. Being at another location where you are likely to be;
  4. Communicating with you;
  5. Damaging your property; and/or
  6. Harassing, intimidating or threatening you.

Many clients elect to represent themselves when obtaining an interim Domestic Violence Order, (DVO).  For some it may be a daunting process or an emotional time and in those circumstances, you may wish to consider engaging a lawyer to help you prepare your application and represent you at Court.

How to apply for a DVO

To make an application, you need to attend the ACT Magistrates Court.  If you file your application prior to 11am on a weekday, your application may be heard on the same day.  However, there are three documents required to apply:

  1. An Application;
  2. An Affidavit; and
  3. An Information sheet.

You can pick up these documents from the Court registry or by visiting the ACT Magistrates Court online.

On what grounds?

Your application must set out the grounds or the basis for your seeking an interim Order.  To obtain an interim Order, you must provide evidence that the other party’s conduct is domestic violence conduct.  If you are unsure about whether a person’s conduct is domestic violence, you should discuss this with your lawyer.

An Affa-what?

You will be required to swear an Affidavit stating that the information you provide to the Court in your application is true and correct.  You must have that document witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.  You will also be required to complete an Information Form to provide details about the other party’s location and contact information.  This information is used by the police to serve your application and any interim Order made, upon the other party.

Are you hearing this?

You will be required to attend a short hearing before a Magistrate or Registrar.  You will be required to give oral evidence about your application.  The Registrar or the Magistrate determining your application may ask you questions, or if you have representation, your lawyer will ask you questions about your evidence.  You will need to tell your story to the Court and provide answers under oath.  You may bring a support person with you to Court if you wish.

The Court will decide, based on the evidence, whether to make an interim Order.  If an Order is made, it takes effect once it is served on the other party.  Your matter will be adjourned for about six weeks to a Registrar’s Conference.  If the Court declines to make an Order, your matter will be adjourned to a Registrar’s Conference.  The purpose of that conference is to attempt to resolve the proceedings by agreement.  This may involve the interim Order being made a Final Order, by the giving of Undertakings or the dismissal of the proceedings.  You will not be required to be in the same room as the other party during the conference.  You may also be legally represented at the conference.

To discuss your personal circumstances or obtain further information about Domestic Violence Orders, contact one of our lawyers on (02) 6212 7600.

If you have been served with a Domestic Violence Order and need advice, see our article “I have been served with a Domestic Violence Order. What do I do?

Jacquelyn Curtis is Lawyer at Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson Family Law Specialists, 18 Kendall Lane, New Acton, Canberra ACT 2601 and can be contacted on (02) 6212 7600.