This article addresses the topic of domestic and family violence. If you or a loved one is in danger or at any risk of domestic or family violence, or if you are concerned for your personal safety, we urge you to contact 000 and ask for the police immediately.
Unfortunately, family violence can be prevalent in many matters that come before the Family Law Courts. The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia take family violence very seriously. Domestic and family violence is an issue that has an impact on all members of a family, including of course on children, and can impact on the wider community. Many find it difficult however to know for sure exactly what behaviour constitutes family violence, or just knowing what steps to take to protect yourself and your loved ones can be difficult.
Read on to find out more about domestic and family violence and what types of orders you can obtain from the Magistrates Court to protect yourself moving forward.
What is domestic and family violence?
Domestic and family violence (DFV) does not always involve physical violence. DFV is often recognised as an ongoing pattern of behaviour by a person in a relationship which is aimed at controlling another person, and this control can come in various forms.
Some examples of DFV are:
- Stalking and surveillance – this may include following you, frequently dropping by your home or workplace to “check-up” on you, and lingering outside your home or workplace;
- Physical abuse – physical violence is actual physical contact or threat of physical contact, such as hitting, punching and pushing. This may also include behaviour such as destroying property or punching walls even if there is no injury inflicted on your body as a result;
- Psychological & emotional abuse – this includes behaviour aimed at undermining your feelings of self-worth, such as constant criticism and belittling. It may also include manipulative techniques to control you, such as the use of blackmail;
- Sexual abuse – this relates to any unwanted or forced sexual activity, such as forcing or coercing you to engage in sexual behaviour or deliberately causing pain during sexual intercourse;
- Financial abuse – this may include be behaviour such as controlling your spending, withholding your pay, restricting access to joint bank accounts, and preventing you from working or furthering your education.
The above is, of course, just some examples of DFV and is not intended on being an exhaustive list. An assessment of your individual circumstances and your family dynamics would be necessary to ascertain whether particular behaviour might constitute DFV.
What is a Domestic Violence Order?
If you or any of your family members are experiencing DFV, you might consider reporting the incident(s) to the police as soon as practicable. Also, an application to the Magistrates Court of Queensland for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) can be made.
A DVO is a Protection Order made by the court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence.
The DVO names the aggrieved person(s), that is, those who are experiencing the domestic violence. It also names the person who is perpetrating the violence as the respondent.
The purpose of a DVO is to keep the aggrieved safe by restraining the respondent from committing further acts of family violence. The DVO may also include a wide range of other conditions imposed on the respondent, such as prohibiting them from:
- approaching you or coming within a certain distance from your home or workplace;
- approaching your relatives or friends;
- going to a child’s school or day care centre; and
- contacting you in any way (including by phone or on social media).
Who can apply for a DVO?
In Queensland, to be eligible to apply for a DVO, the alleged violence must have occurred when the parties were:
- in an intimate personal relationship; or
- in a family relationship; or
- in an informal unpaid care relationship.
Importantly, you do not need to apply for the DVO by yourself. The police can apply to the court for a DVO on your behalf. In addition, a lawyer, friend, family member or any other trusted person can also apply for you. Regardless of who applies, the Court will make an order with the conditions it considers appropriate, and the police will enforce the order accordingly.
Types of Domestic Violence Orders
The court may make the following DVOs in your matter:
- Temporary Protection Order; or
- Protection Order.
If you are in need of urgent protection, you can request a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) to be considered by the court when you file your application. TPOs are made by the court to protect those in immediate danger until the court is able to consider whether to make a final protection order at the final hearing.
During a final hearing, the court will assess all of the evidence based on the circumstances of the alleged offending, hear any cross-examination of parties and then make a final determination of the application. If the court considers that the circumstances warrant there being a DVO, the court may impose a Protection Order. A Protection Order is generally made for the minimum period of 5 years, although the period may be shorter if the court is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so. In any event, the period of the order may be extended if the circumstances of the case permit.
Seek legal advice
Domestic and family violence is a serious matter and taking steps to apply for a Domestic Violence Order may seem daunting but in some cases is necessary to protect safety. Being on the other side of an application for a Protection Order can also be difficult to navigate without the benefit of legal advice. Keep in mind that the application itself and any subsequent orders are legal documents and there may be consequences for making false statements or for any non-compliance with orders.
If you have concerns for your safety and/or are considering applying for a domestic violence order, contact us today to arrange an urgent appointment with Shannon Daykin, an Accredited Family Law Specialist, to discuss your circumstances and needs. Shannon was named as one of Brisbane’s Leading Family & Divorce Lawyers (Recommended) and Leading Parenting & Children’s Matters Lawyers (Leading) 2021, Brisbane, in the prestigious Doyle’s Family Law Guide, and named on the List in previous years. We offer a reduced fixed fee initial consultation, which can be conducted in person, by phone or by video conference.
We give you expert legal advice on the most appropriate and cost-effective course of action for you and your family. Contact us on (07) 3852 5490 to make an appointment for a fixed fee initial consultation today.