Responding to a Domestic Violence Application
It is crucial that if you are served an application for a domestic violence order that you are aware of your legal rights and the avenues available to you in responding to the application. If someone has lodged a domestic violence order (DVO) application against you, then you will be called ‘the respondent’ both on the application and during the court proceedings. The person who is alleging the acts of domestic violence is referred to as ‘the aggrieved’. A DVO may be applied for by the aggrieved on their own initiative, or by the police on the aggrieved’s behalf if they believe that the aggrieved is in need of protection.
Responding to DVO
If you have been served with a DVO, then you have the following five options to respond:
- Consent to the application. This means that you accept the order being made and accept all the facts and allegations made in the application. The DVO will be finalised at this point.
- Consent on a ‘without admissions’ basis. This means that you accept the order being made against you but you don’t necessarily agree or make admission to any of the allegations or facts in the application. The DVO will be finalised at this point.
- Ask the court to adjourn the matter for legal advice.
- Oppose the application. In this instance, the court will set the matter down for trial.
- Do nothing.
If you oppose the application and the court sets the matter down for trial, then you must attend court on that date and explain why you disagree with an order being made. Your trial is an opportunity to put any evidence before the court and bring witnesses. You need to engage independent legal representation for the trial.
If you do nothing, the court may make a final protection order in your absence. As you have been served with the application, the court has the power to make the order final as you have been given an opportunity to respond. You will receive a copy of the final order from the police. If you are unsure whether a DVO has been made against you, then you should contact the courthouse or the police to find out.
Conditions of DVO
It is essential that you follow the conditions on an order made against you. If you don’t, then you are committing a criminal offence and may face criminal charges.
Every DVO contains the base mandatory condition that you ‘must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence towards the aggrieved person’.
Additional conditions depend on the domestic violence behaviours that are alleged in the application and what the court deems necessary and desirable to be included on the DVO in order to protect the aggrieved person. Examples of other conditions that may be included on a DVO are as follows:
- That you are prohibited from approaching the aggrieved or the aggrieved’s place of residence (or another specific place);
- That you are prohibited from contacting the aggrieved or asking someone other than a lawyer to contact the aggrieved;
- That you are prohibited from locating the aggrieved or asking someone to locate the aggrieved; or
- That you are prohibited from using social media to post about the aggrieved.
Implications of being named as Respondent on a DVO
Importantly, there are several implications to be aware of if you are named as the Respondent on a DVO. A DVO is a civil order and does not go on your criminal record. However, a breach of any of the conditions on the DVO is a criminal offence and you may be charged. The maximum penalty for a first domestic violence offence is up to three years imprisonment.
DVOs are typically made for a period of five years and are enforceable in all states and territories of Australia and New Zealand.
You are unable to hold a weapons license for the duration of the DVO.
You are at liberty to apply to the court to vary the order (for example to reduce conditions or shorten the duration of the order) at any time after the order is made.
Gold Coast Family Lawyers
Our family law team and the Family Court continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our family law team have extensive experience in domestic violence matters and highly recommend that if you need assistance with preparation or response to a domestic violence application, and/or representation in those proceedings, that you contact our office today.