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Family Violence Intervention Orders - What you need to know

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In Victoria, A Family Violence Intervention Order can protect a person from a family member who is committing acts of family violence. Here are 10 things that you need to know about Family Violence Intervention Orders.

1. What is a Family Violence Intervention Order?

Family Violence Intervention Order is a Court Order made under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, to protect someone from a family member who is committing acts of family violence. Similar orders that do not involve family members are known as Personal Safety Intervention Orders.

Is a Family Violence Intervention Order the same as a Restraining Order?

You may have heard many terms refer to this type of Court Order: Restraining Order, Domestic Violence Order (DVO), Apprehended Violence Order (AVO), Intervention Order (IVO), or Family Violence Order. In Victoria, they are referred to as Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIVOs).

How does a Family Violence Intervention Order work?

An FVIVO is a legal document that imposes conditions on a person, which can include restrictions on movement and activities. The respondent is the person who the Order has been made against, and the person who is protected by the Order is known as the affected family member, the applicant, or the protected person.

What are the conditions of a Family Violence Intervention Order?

An Intervention Order may impose conditions on the respondent such as:

  • They must not commit family violence;
  • They must not damage property;
  • They must not publish anything on the internet about the protected person;
  • They must not keep the protected person under surveillance;
  • They must not contact the protected person;
  • They must not go near the protected person's residence or place of work; or
  • They must not get anybody else to do anything to the protected person which the respondent is prohibited from doing under the Order.

A Family Violence Intervention Order is a civil matter, however a breach of any of the conditions imposed by the Order may bring about criminal charges.

 

2. What is family violence?

Family violence can include:

  • Physical abuse, such as hitting, pushing or touching a person;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Emotional or psychological abuse;
  • Economical abuse, such as controlling a person's money without consent;
  • Threatening or coercive behaviour, such as isolating a person from others and/or monitoring what and how they do things; or
  • Any other behaviour that seeks to control or dominate the protected person and causes that protected person to experience fear for their safety and wellbeing or that of another person.

Additionally, any behaviour by the respondent that ignites fear in a child (through witnessing incidences of family violence) may also be classed as family violence and may result in the children being listed on the FVIVO as affected family members.

 

3. Who are family members for a Family Violence Intervention Order?

For the purposes of a Family Violence Intervention Order, family members are defined under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 as:

  • People who currently share, or once shared, an intimate personal relationship (such as married, de facto or domestic partners); 
  • Parents and children (including stepchildren);
  • Relatives by birth, marriage or adoption; or
  • People who are treated like a family member (such as a caregiver, guardian, etc.).

If you are unsure whether you are a family member for the purposes of an Intervention Order, contact a member of our experienced criminal law team.

 

4. How do I apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order against someone?

Who can apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order?

An application for an FVIVO may be made by:

  • A member of the Police;
  • An affected family member; or
  • A parent or guardian of an affected family member.

What is a Family Violence Safety Notice?

If an application for an FVIVO is made by a member of the Police, it will be initiated by a Family Violence Safety Notice (FVSN).

An FVSN has the full effect of an Order and can be made where the respondent is, amongst other requirements, over the age of 18 years old and does not have a cognitive impairment. It will often contain the full conditions listed in the first clause of this article and contain a date on which you will be required to attend Court to have the police application for an FVIVO heard. Seeking legal advice at this point is encouraged and can help to clarify your options.

If you are the affected family member to an FVSN or an FVIVO, it is important to note that the Police may take out an Order on your behalf, even if you do not want them to.

FVIVO Applications for Affected Family

An affected family member and the parent or guardian of an affected person may apply for a Family Violence Intervention Order at a Magistrates' Court in Victoria. Should you need more immediate protection, a Magistrate is able to put in place an interim intervention order, which provides protection until both parties can attend Court. Children under the age of 18 can also be placed under these orders.

Family Violence Legal Assistance

We understand that these matters are often highly emotional and can be scary and confusing. Our team can assist you through the process and represent you in Court.

If you are in immediate danger or feel unsafe, you should contact the Police by phoning 000.

 

5. A Family Violence Intervention Order has been applied for against me. What can I do?

This means you are the respondent in the matter. You have the right to contest the application. If you choose to do so, the Court will set a time for a hearing and a final determination of the application. While waiting for your hearing date, or between subsequent court dates, you may be subject to an interim order. This may place certain restrictions on your actions and movement. Whilst these can be frustrating, it is very important that you comply with any conditions of the interim order. This will make your hearing at Court run more smoothly and put you in better stead to contest the Order. You should seek legal advice to help clarify your options.

Consenting to the Order

If you do not wish to contest the application, you may consent to the Order. This is usually done without admission, which means you are not admitting that you have committed family violence, but have chosen to comply with the conditions of the Order nonetheless. This may be to avoid further court dates and associated fees, or for many other reasons.

 

6. How long does a Family Violence Intervention Order last?

If the Court is satisfied that there are grounds for granting a Family Violence Intervention Order in favour of an affected family member, they may do so on an interim or final basis.

Where an application has been made but it is not yet finalised, the Court may instate an interim intervention order. These orders bind the family members until the next Court date.

final intervention order is made when a respondent consents or when, after hearing the evidence from both parties, the Court is satisfied that family violence has occurred and the affected family member requires the protection of an FVIVO. In both cases, the Court determines a duration as appropriate. The most frequent duration of a Family Violence Intervention Order is 12 months.

 

7. If the affected family member consents, can I contact them or visit them at the prohibited address?

No, one of the biggest misconceptions is that a respondent can breach the Family Violence Intervention Order so long as the affected family member permits them to do so. This is not the case. In fact, even if they advise the Court or a member of Police that the parties have reconciled and wish to commence living together again, you as a respondent cannot speak to the affected family member, attend the prohibited address or do anything else that you are prohibited to do pursuant to the Order until one of the following occurs:

  • A Court alters the Order; or
  • The Order expires; or
  • The Order is revoked.

If you are caught breaching a condition of your Order, even with the consent of the protected person, you may be criminally charged with a breach.

 

8. What is a prohibited person for a Family Violence Intervention Order?

A respondent who has a final Order made against them will attract what is referred to as a prohibited person status for the duration of the Order and for a period of five years after the Order has expired (i.e. if the order is of 12 month duration, then the prohibited person status will run for six years). Attracting a prohibited person status may result in the Court suspending firearm, weapon and security authorities.

If this occurs, an application may be brought in the Magistrates' Court within three months of the making of the final Order to have the prohibited person status altered to a non-prohibited person status. Our team can assist you through the process and represent you in Court.

 

9. Once in place, can a Family Violence Intervention Order be extended or altered?

Yes, as a protected person, you can apply to the Court to have the Order varied, revoked or extended if you need more protection, find the conditions in the Order difficult to manage, or you want to have contact with the respondent.

Similarly, if you are the respondent of the matter, you may also apply to the Court to have the Order varied, revoked or extended if you find the conditions difficult to manage, your circumstances have changed, or if you want to have contact with the protected person. As the respondent however, before you make an application to revoke, vary or extend an FVIVO, you must seek leave from the Court to do so.

Our team can assist both protected persons and respondents through the necessary processes and represent you in Court.

 

10. Does a Family Violence Intervention Order only impact me while I am in the issuing state?

No, as of November 2017 and as a result of the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, all Family Violence Intervention Orders made in Australia are national orders which are recognised and enforced in all Australian States and territories.

This includes:

  • Interim Orders;
  • Final Orders; and
  • Family Violence Safety Notices.

 

Should you have any questions about Family Violence Intervention Orders, please contact our experienced family violence lawyers.

 

How to contact our Office

 

Melbourne Office
259 William Street 
MELBOURNE VIC 3000 

T (03) 9200 2533 
enquiries@galballyobryan.com.au 

 

Dandenong Office 
Shop 9/147-151 Foster Street 
DANDENONG VIC 3175 

T (03) 9769 2510 
dandenong@galballyobryan.com.au 

 

Pakenham Office 
Shop 1, 15 John Street 
PAKENHAM VIC 3810 

T (03) 5941 7990 
pakenham@galballyobryan.com.au

 

The information on this website is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner. Contact us for more information.