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GOING TO COURT

A Guide for Affected Family Members seeking a Family Violence Intervention Order 

Court hearings are both stressful and necessary when family violence is putting you and/or your children’s safety at risk.  This resource has been designed to help you feel prepared for your day in Court so you can focus on getting the best outcome possible. It will cover: 

  • Applying for a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO); 

  • Getting ready; 

  • Where to go and what to do; 

  • Types of Hearings and Outcomes; and 

  • What happens after the Hearings.

What is a Family Violence Intervention Order?

A Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) is a Court order that protects a person and their children from a partner or ex-partner, or other family member, who has used family violence. The people being protected are known as 'Affected Family Members' (AFMs), and the person using violence is know as the 'Respondent'

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Types of FVIOs:

There are two types of Family Violence Intervention Orders:

  • An interim order – a temporary order the Magistrate makes if they believe a person needs protecting immediately. An interim order lasts until a Magistrate decides whether to make a final order. While the interim order is in place, the Respondent must follow its conditions. If they don't, the police might charge them with a criminal offence; or

  • A final order – an order made if a Magistrate believes the Respondent has used family violence and is likely to again. The order will last until the end date set by the Magistrate.

  • Family violence intervention orders
    A family violence intervention order is an order of protection from the court that says the person of concern must not commit family violence. Not complying with the order is a criminal offence, and the police will act if the other person does not comply. An NCLC lawyer will help you work out the conditions you need included in the order, and whether children or other family members also need to be included. Conditions can include: The person of concern must not damage your property; They must not track your movements; They cannot comment about you on social media or by email; They cannot contact you or communicate in other ways; They must stay a certain distance away; They must stay away from your workplace, school and/or home; They cannot ask another person to do the things prohibited in the order; and They must return your property. The lawyer can also help you work out further specific conditions, such as allowing the person of concern to be able to talk or spend time with the children at specific times, whilst staying away at other times. Family violence intervention orders are usually granted for a specific period – twelve months, for example. At the end of this period, you can request for the order to be extended by applying to the court, or to vary the order if things have changed. For example, if you decide you want the person living in the house with you again, you might vary the order to remove the condition that they stay away.
  • Assistance with migration issues
    The NCLC migration lawyer can determine what visa you are on, and what pathways are available for you to safely remain in Australia. If you are on a partner visa and are experiencing family violence, there are specific family violence provisions that allow you to apply for residency.
  • Child arrangements
    When a relationship ends, the law says that parents must try to agree on arrangements for their children, thinking about what is best for them. If parents agree, they can put this in writing and a court will make it into legally enforceable consent orders. If parents cannot agree, they may have to try mediation – a conference where an independent person will help both parents to work through the issues and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, a person can apply to the family law courts to make what are called 'parenting orders'. The court always puts the children’s best interests first. The NCLC lawyer can help you work out arrangements for children spending time with each parent, and support you through the process of mediation.
  • Your rights to property
    The NCLC lawyer can give you some initial advice about dividing any property. They may refer you to a private lawyer for further assistance.
  • Your rights to financial support
    The lawyer can advise you on whether you are entitled to receive ongoing financial support from your ex-partner following separation. This is called ‘spousal maintenance’. Financial support for your child/children is known as ‘child support’.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance
    Victims of Crime Assistance is available to a person who has had a violent crime committed against them in Victoria, leading to either physical injury or mental harm. Other people who have been affected, such as children, may also be eligible for assistance. This assistance may include covering: · Counselling expenses; · Medical expenses; · Replacement of damaged items; · Safety-related expenses (such as improved home security); · Funeral expenses; · Loss of income; · Special financial assistance; and · Other expenses that will assist recovery. The NCLC lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be eligible for assistance, and then how to prepare your application.
  • Assistance with rental accommodation
    The NCLC lawyer can help you to change your renting arrangements as needed if the violent family member is leaving the rental home and their name is on the lease.
  • Fines and debt
    In some situations, the NCLC lawyer might be able to get fines or debt waived or reduced if you are experiencing family violence.
  • How to make an appointment
    To make an appointment to speak to an NCLC lawyer, you can either: · Telephone us on (03) 9310 4376 (call 131 450 if you need a telephone interpreter) · Email us at admin@northernclc.org.au Before seeing a lawyer: · Make sure you have some private space away from the abusive person to talk with the lawyer. If possible, organise for children to be minded by someone else. It is important that children do not overhear information that they might accidentally pass on to the other person. · Gather any paperwork that is relevant to your situation, provided this can be done safely. The lawyer may ask you to email documents through to them. · Write down a list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer to make sure you get all the information that you need. · Have a pen and paper ready. The lawyer might suggest other services that can also help you. NCLC has both male and female lawyers available. If you feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, this can be requested.

Applying for a Family Violence Intervention Order

There are two pathways to obtaining an FVIO. The first is a personal application where an individual directly applies. The second is a police application, when a member of the police makes the application on behalf of a person they determine needs protection. 

 

Intervention Order Conditions:

The conditions listed on the application form for an intervention order include stopping the Respondent from: 

  • Committing family violence against the protected person;

  • Intentionally damaging the protected person’s property or threatening to do so;

  • Attempting to locate or follow the protected person or keep them under surveillance;

  • Publishing on the internet or by email or other electronic communication any material about the protected person; 

  • Contacting or communicating with the protected person by any means; 

  • Approaching or remaining within a certain distance of the protected person; 

  • Going to or remaining within a certain distance of where the protected person lives, works or attends school or childcare; and 

  • Getting another person to do anything the respondent must not do under the order. 

 

You can also ask the Magistrate to order the Respondent to: 

  • Return your personal property and other jointly owned property that you or your children need to continue to work, study and live;

  • Hand in any guns or weapons to police; and/or

  • Suspend or cancel any firearms authority, weapons approval or weapons exemption. 

If you have children, you can also ask the Magistrate to change (vary) or suspend a parenting order. 

FVIOs and Child Protection:

If Child Protection have concerns for the safety of children, they may make recommendations about the types of conditions that you should be seeking on a FVIO. If these conditions are not included, they may make further applications in relation to the children through the Children’s Court. It’s important to seek legal advice if Child Protection is involved and you don’t agree with the conditions that they have requested. 

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Getting Ready

You will receive the time and date of your hearing beforehand by post or email. Depending on the situation and the Court’s availability, your hearing may be scheduled for within a few days or you may need to wait longer, sometimes more than a month. 

 

  • Family violence intervention orders
    A family violence intervention order is an order of protection from the court that says the person of concern must not commit family violence. Not complying with the order is a criminal offence, and the police will act if the other person does not comply. An NCLC lawyer will help you work out the conditions you need included in the order, and whether children or other family members also need to be included. Conditions can include: The person of concern must not damage your property; They must not track your movements; They cannot comment about you on social media or by email; They cannot contact you or communicate in other ways; They must stay a certain distance away; They must stay away from your workplace, school and/or home; They cannot ask another person to do the things prohibited in the order; and They must return your property. The lawyer can also help you work out further specific conditions, such as allowing the person of concern to be able to talk or spend time with the children at specific times, whilst staying away at other times. Family violence intervention orders are usually granted for a specific period – twelve months, for example. At the end of this period, you can request for the order to be extended by applying to the court, or to vary the order if things have changed. For example, if you decide you want the person living in the house with you again, you might vary the order to remove the condition that they stay away.
  • Assistance with migration issues
    The NCLC migration lawyer can determine what visa you are on, and what pathways are available for you to safely remain in Australia. If you are on a partner visa and are experiencing family violence, there are specific family violence provisions that allow you to apply for residency.
  • Child arrangements
    When a relationship ends, the law says that parents must try to agree on arrangements for their children, thinking about what is best for them. If parents agree, they can put this in writing and a court will make it into legally enforceable consent orders. If parents cannot agree, they may have to try mediation – a conference where an independent person will help both parents to work through the issues and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, a person can apply to the family law courts to make what are called 'parenting orders'. The court always puts the children’s best interests first. The NCLC lawyer can help you work out arrangements for children spending time with each parent, and support you through the process of mediation.
  • Your rights to property
    The NCLC lawyer can give you some initial advice about dividing any property. They may refer you to a private lawyer for further assistance.
  • Your rights to financial support
    The lawyer can advise you on whether you are entitled to receive ongoing financial support from your ex-partner following separation. This is called ‘spousal maintenance’. Financial support for your child/children is known as ‘child support’.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance
    Victims of Crime Assistance is available to a person who has had a violent crime committed against them in Victoria, leading to either physical injury or mental harm. Other people who have been affected, such as children, may also be eligible for assistance. This assistance may include covering: · Counselling expenses; · Medical expenses; · Replacement of damaged items; · Safety-related expenses (such as improved home security); · Funeral expenses; · Loss of income; · Special financial assistance; and · Other expenses that will assist recovery. The NCLC lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be eligible for assistance, and then how to prepare your application.
  • Assistance with rental accommodation
    The NCLC lawyer can help you to change your renting arrangements as needed if the violent family member is leaving the rental home and their name is on the lease.
  • Fines and debt
    In some situations, the NCLC lawyer might be able to get fines or debt waived or reduced if you are experiencing family violence.
  • How to make an appointment
    To make an appointment to speak to an NCLC lawyer, you can either: · Telephone us on (03) 9310 4376 (call 131 450 if you need a telephone interpreter) · Email us at admin@northernclc.org.au Before seeing a lawyer: · Make sure you have some private space away from the abusive person to talk with the lawyer. If possible, organise for children to be minded by someone else. It is important that children do not overhear information that they might accidentally pass on to the other person. · Gather any paperwork that is relevant to your situation, provided this can be done safely. The lawyer may ask you to email documents through to them. · Write down a list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer to make sure you get all the information that you need. · Have a pen and paper ready. The lawyer might suggest other services that can also help you. NCLC has both male and female lawyers available. If you feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, this can be requested.

Where to go and what to do

On the day of your hearing, follow this process:

Arrive at Court before 9:30am. 

 

 

You will go through security screening, so make sure you do not mistakenly have scissors or glass or other prohibited items in your bag.

 

 

See the Intervention Order Registry to let them know who you are and if you want, you can ask to see a duty lawyer. 

 

 

The duty lawyer will call out your name to be assisted. The duty lawyer will ask you questions and let you know what your options are. They will then negotiate on your behalf with the other person or their representative putting forward your preferred option. Wait for your case to be called. 

 

 

 

Go inside the Courtroom for your hearing. ​

Frequently asked questions

  • Family violence intervention orders
    A family violence intervention order is an order of protection from the court that says the person of concern must not commit family violence. Not complying with the order is a criminal offence, and the police will act if the other person does not comply. An NCLC lawyer will help you work out the conditions you need included in the order, and whether children or other family members also need to be included. Conditions can include: The person of concern must not damage your property; They must not track your movements; They cannot comment about you on social media or by email; They cannot contact you or communicate in other ways; They must stay a certain distance away; They must stay away from your workplace, school and/or home; They cannot ask another person to do the things prohibited in the order; and They must return your property. The lawyer can also help you work out further specific conditions, such as allowing the person of concern to be able to talk or spend time with the children at specific times, whilst staying away at other times. Family violence intervention orders are usually granted for a specific period – twelve months, for example. At the end of this period, you can request for the order to be extended by applying to the court, or to vary the order if things have changed. For example, if you decide you want the person living in the house with you again, you might vary the order to remove the condition that they stay away.
  • Assistance with migration issues
    The NCLC migration lawyer can determine what visa you are on, and what pathways are available for you to safely remain in Australia. If you are on a partner visa and are experiencing family violence, there are specific family violence provisions that allow you to apply for residency.
  • Child arrangements
    When a relationship ends, the law says that parents must try to agree on arrangements for their children, thinking about what is best for them. If parents agree, they can put this in writing and a court will make it into legally enforceable consent orders. If parents cannot agree, they may have to try mediation – a conference where an independent person will help both parents to work through the issues and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, a person can apply to the family law courts to make what are called 'parenting orders'. The court always puts the children’s best interests first. The NCLC lawyer can help you work out arrangements for children spending time with each parent, and support you through the process of mediation.
  • Your rights to property
    The NCLC lawyer can give you some initial advice about dividing any property. They may refer you to a private lawyer for further assistance.
  • Your rights to financial support
    The lawyer can advise you on whether you are entitled to receive ongoing financial support from your ex-partner following separation. This is called ‘spousal maintenance’. Financial support for your child/children is known as ‘child support’.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance
    Victims of Crime Assistance is available to a person who has had a violent crime committed against them in Victoria, leading to either physical injury or mental harm. Other people who have been affected, such as children, may also be eligible for assistance. This assistance may include covering: · Counselling expenses; · Medical expenses; · Replacement of damaged items; · Safety-related expenses (such as improved home security); · Funeral expenses; · Loss of income; · Special financial assistance; and · Other expenses that will assist recovery. The NCLC lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be eligible for assistance, and then how to prepare your application.
  • Assistance with rental accommodation
    The NCLC lawyer can help you to change your renting arrangements as needed if the violent family member is leaving the rental home and their name is on the lease.
  • Fines and debt
    In some situations, the NCLC lawyer might be able to get fines or debt waived or reduced if you are experiencing family violence.
  • How to make an appointment
    To make an appointment to speak to an NCLC lawyer, you can either: · Telephone us on (03) 9310 4376 (call 131 450 if you need a telephone interpreter) · Email us at admin@northernclc.org.au Before seeing a lawyer: · Make sure you have some private space away from the abusive person to talk with the lawyer. If possible, organise for children to be minded by someone else. It is important that children do not overhear information that they might accidentally pass on to the other person. · Gather any paperwork that is relevant to your situation, provided this can be done safely. The lawyer may ask you to email documents through to them. · Write down a list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer to make sure you get all the information that you need. · Have a pen and paper ready. The lawyer might suggest other services that can also help you. NCLC has both male and female lawyers available. If you feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, this can be requested.

Types of hearings 

  • Family violence intervention orders
    A family violence intervention order is an order of protection from the court that says the person of concern must not commit family violence. Not complying with the order is a criminal offence, and the police will act if the other person does not comply. An NCLC lawyer will help you work out the conditions you need included in the order, and whether children or other family members also need to be included. Conditions can include: The person of concern must not damage your property; They must not track your movements; They cannot comment about you on social media or by email; They cannot contact you or communicate in other ways; They must stay a certain distance away; They must stay away from your workplace, school and/or home; They cannot ask another person to do the things prohibited in the order; and They must return your property. The lawyer can also help you work out further specific conditions, such as allowing the person of concern to be able to talk or spend time with the children at specific times, whilst staying away at other times. Family violence intervention orders are usually granted for a specific period – twelve months, for example. At the end of this period, you can request for the order to be extended by applying to the court, or to vary the order if things have changed. For example, if you decide you want the person living in the house with you again, you might vary the order to remove the condition that they stay away.
  • Assistance with migration issues
    The NCLC migration lawyer can determine what visa you are on, and what pathways are available for you to safely remain in Australia. If you are on a partner visa and are experiencing family violence, there are specific family violence provisions that allow you to apply for residency.
  • Child arrangements
    When a relationship ends, the law says that parents must try to agree on arrangements for their children, thinking about what is best for them. If parents agree, they can put this in writing and a court will make it into legally enforceable consent orders. If parents cannot agree, they may have to try mediation – a conference where an independent person will help both parents to work through the issues and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, a person can apply to the family law courts to make what are called 'parenting orders'. The court always puts the children’s best interests first. The NCLC lawyer can help you work out arrangements for children spending time with each parent, and support you through the process of mediation.
  • Your rights to property
    The NCLC lawyer can give you some initial advice about dividing any property. They may refer you to a private lawyer for further assistance.
  • Your rights to financial support
    The lawyer can advise you on whether you are entitled to receive ongoing financial support from your ex-partner following separation. This is called ‘spousal maintenance’. Financial support for your child/children is known as ‘child support’.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance
    Victims of Crime Assistance is available to a person who has had a violent crime committed against them in Victoria, leading to either physical injury or mental harm. Other people who have been affected, such as children, may also be eligible for assistance. This assistance may include covering: · Counselling expenses; · Medical expenses; · Replacement of damaged items; · Safety-related expenses (such as improved home security); · Funeral expenses; · Loss of income; · Special financial assistance; and · Other expenses that will assist recovery. The NCLC lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be eligible for assistance, and then how to prepare your application.
  • Assistance with rental accommodation
    The NCLC lawyer can help you to change your renting arrangements as needed if the violent family member is leaving the rental home and their name is on the lease.
  • Fines and debt
    In some situations, the NCLC lawyer might be able to get fines or debt waived or reduced if you are experiencing family violence.
  • How to make an appointment
    To make an appointment to speak to an NCLC lawyer, you can either: · Telephone us on (03) 9310 4376 (call 131 450 if you need a telephone interpreter) · Email us at admin@northernclc.org.au Before seeing a lawyer: · Make sure you have some private space away from the abusive person to talk with the lawyer. If possible, organise for children to be minded by someone else. It is important that children do not overhear information that they might accidentally pass on to the other person. · Gather any paperwork that is relevant to your situation, provided this can be done safely. The lawyer may ask you to email documents through to them. · Write down a list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer to make sure you get all the information that you need. · Have a pen and paper ready. The lawyer might suggest other services that can also help you. NCLC has both male and female lawyers available. If you feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, this can be requested.
  • Family violence intervention orders
    A family violence intervention order is an order of protection from the court that says the person of concern must not commit family violence. Not complying with the order is a criminal offence, and the police will act if the other person does not comply. An NCLC lawyer will help you work out the conditions you need included in the order, and whether children or other family members also need to be included. Conditions can include: The person of concern must not damage your property; They must not track your movements; They cannot comment about you on social media or by email; They cannot contact you or communicate in other ways; They must stay a certain distance away; They must stay away from your workplace, school and/or home; They cannot ask another person to do the things prohibited in the order; and They must return your property. The lawyer can also help you work out further specific conditions, such as allowing the person of concern to be able to talk or spend time with the children at specific times, whilst staying away at other times. Family violence intervention orders are usually granted for a specific period – twelve months, for example. At the end of this period, you can request for the order to be extended by applying to the court, or to vary the order if things have changed. For example, if you decide you want the person living in the house with you again, you might vary the order to remove the condition that they stay away.
  • Assistance with migration issues
    The NCLC migration lawyer can determine what visa you are on, and what pathways are available for you to safely remain in Australia. If you are on a partner visa and are experiencing family violence, there are specific family violence provisions that allow you to apply for residency.
  • Child arrangements
    When a relationship ends, the law says that parents must try to agree on arrangements for their children, thinking about what is best for them. If parents agree, they can put this in writing and a court will make it into legally enforceable consent orders. If parents cannot agree, they may have to try mediation – a conference where an independent person will help both parents to work through the issues and come to an agreement. If mediation does not work, a person can apply to the family law courts to make what are called 'parenting orders'. The court always puts the children’s best interests first. The NCLC lawyer can help you work out arrangements for children spending time with each parent, and support you through the process of mediation.
  • Your rights to property
    The NCLC lawyer can give you some initial advice about dividing any property. They may refer you to a private lawyer for further assistance.
  • Your rights to financial support
    The lawyer can advise you on whether you are entitled to receive ongoing financial support from your ex-partner following separation. This is called ‘spousal maintenance’. Financial support for your child/children is known as ‘child support’.
  • Victims of Crime Assistance
    Victims of Crime Assistance is available to a person who has had a violent crime committed against them in Victoria, leading to either physical injury or mental harm. Other people who have been affected, such as children, may also be eligible for assistance. This assistance may include covering: · Counselling expenses; · Medical expenses; · Replacement of damaged items; · Safety-related expenses (such as improved home security); · Funeral expenses; · Loss of income; · Special financial assistance; and · Other expenses that will assist recovery. The NCLC lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be eligible for assistance, and then how to prepare your application.
  • Assistance with rental accommodation
    The NCLC lawyer can help you to change your renting arrangements as needed if the violent family member is leaving the rental home and their name is on the lease.
  • Fines and debt
    In some situations, the NCLC lawyer might be able to get fines or debt waived or reduced if you are experiencing family violence.
  • How to make an appointment
    To make an appointment to speak to an NCLC lawyer, you can either: · Telephone us on (03) 9310 4376 (call 131 450 if you need a telephone interpreter) · Email us at admin@northernclc.org.au Before seeing a lawyer: · Make sure you have some private space away from the abusive person to talk with the lawyer. If possible, organise for children to be minded by someone else. It is important that children do not overhear information that they might accidentally pass on to the other person. · Gather any paperwork that is relevant to your situation, provided this can be done safely. The lawyer may ask you to email documents through to them. · Write down a list of questions that you want to ask the lawyer to make sure you get all the information that you need. · Have a pen and paper ready. The lawyer might suggest other services that can also help you. NCLC has both male and female lawyers available. If you feel more comfortable with a female lawyer, this can be requested.

Respondent options

During the interim, mention, direction and contested hearings the respondent has the opportunity to respond to the application being submitted against them.   

 

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What happens after my hearing? 

If you feel unsafe after your hearing, let Court staff or security know. They can wait with you and escort you to your vehicle.  

 

Attending Court can be stressful. Ask a family member or friend to come with you to Court to provide emotional support while you wait for your hearing, or at least organise to see a family member or friend that night. If you have a counsellor, try and make an appointment for shortly after your hearing. Alternatively, you can speak to a counsellor for free by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). 1800 RESPECT operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.   

 

If you have ongoing legal issues related to divorce, child contact arrangements with the other party, child protection involvement, child support or any other legal problem, make a further appointment to see the NCLC lawyer. If you have been a victim of a crime, you may also be eligible for the Victims of Crime Financial Assistance Scheme. For further information contact the Victims Legal Service Help Line on 8610 9831 or email vlshelpline@vla.vic.gov.au

 

 

What if the other party doesn’t comply with the order? 

If you are protected by a FVIO it is important that you report any breaches to police as soon as possible. A breach of a FVIO is a criminal offence and serious penalties apply.   

 

How do I change a FVIO? 

Sometimes circumstances change, and you may wish to change the conditions of your order (known as varying, or a variation) or make an order last longer (known as extending, or an extension). You might also want to cancel the order (called revoking, or a revocation). You can make this application online here

Key Contact Numbers: 

Northern Community Legal Centre 

(03) 9310 4376 or email admin@northernclc.org.au 

Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court 

(03) 9087 5734 

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