Family Violence Orders

If you need urgent assistance or your safety is at immediate risk call the Police on 000

If you require information about available domestic violence services or emergency accommodation please call the Domestic Violence Crisis Service: at www.dvcs.org.au or on their 24hrs crisis line 02 6280 0900

A Family Violence Order is an order made by the Court to prohibit someone from engaging in family violence towards family members.

What is family violence?

Family Violence is behaviour by a person in relation to a family member that may include:

  1. Physical violence or abuse;
  2. Sexual violence or abuse;
  3. Emotional or psychological abuse;
  4. Economic abuse;
  5. Threatening behaviour;
  6. Coercion or any other behaviour that:
    • Controls or dominates the family member; and
    • Causes the family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of the family member or another person;
  7. Behaviour that causes a child to hear or witness or otherwise be exposed to the behaviour mentioned above, or the effects of the behaviour

Without limiting any of the above, that behaviour may include:

  • Sexually coercive behaviour;
  • Damaging property;
  • Harming an animal;
  • Stalking;
  • Deprivation of liberty

Who can apply?

You may apply for a Family Violence Order if you have been affected by family violence by the person against whom you seek an order. A person may apply for their child or children who ordinarily live with them.

If your children are over the age of 18 years old, they must make their own application unless they have impaired decision making ability.  If your adult child has impaired decision-making ability, you may be appointed as their litigation guardian

A litigation guardian may apply on behalf of someone who has impaired decision making abilities.

A police officer may apply on behalf of an affected person.  If you would like the assistance of an Order Liaison Officer call Family Violence Co-ordination team at ACT Policing on 6245 7350 from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

How do I apply?

You can apply for a Family Violence Order by filling in;

These forms must be lodged at the ACT Magistrates Court, Knowles Place, Canberra.

Other Common Terms Explained:

Who is an Affected Person?

a person against whom family violence has been or is likely to be committed;

Who is a Respondent?

the person against whom you seek a Family Violence Order; or

a person against whom a Family Violence Order has been made.

Who is a Protected Person?

a person who is protected under a Family Violence Order.

I have received an application for an Order/I have been served with an Interim Order – What do I do?

You will have received a notice setting out the time and date that you are required to come to Court.

The matter will be set for a preliminary conference.

If you have been served with an Interim Family Violence Order, if you agree to the Order being in place, you may complete the endorsement copy of the order that you have received and return it to Court.

If you do not agree to the application for a Family Violence Order, you must attend Court on the date of the preliminary conference or be represented by a lawyer.  If you do not attend Court on this day, a final order may be made in your absence.

Going to Court

The ACT Magistrates Court is located at 4 Knowles Pl, Canberra ACT 2601

When you arrive at the ACT Magistrates Court, proceed to the counter.

The staff at the Court will be able to assist you with procedural advice.  If you are seeking legal advice, you may be directed to ACT Legal Aid.  ACT Legal Aid have an office at the ACT Magistrates Court and can assist you in completing your application.  You can contact ACT Legal Aid on (02) 6207 1874.

If you need urgent protection, you will need to advise the Court on the application form that you are seeking an interim order.

At the time you make an application you will be advised of a date for a preliminary conference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a family member?

A family member is a person who is:

  • A domestic partner or former domestic partner of the person;
  • An intimate partner or former intimate partner of the person;
  • A relative of the person; or
  • A child of a domestic partner or former domestic partner;
  • A parent of a child of the person

Who is a relative?

relative, of a person—

  1. Means the person’s—
    • father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, stepfather, stepmother, father-in-law or mother-in-law; or
    • son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law; or
    • brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law; or
    • uncle, aunt, uncle-in-law or aunt-in-law; or

    nephew, niece or cousin; and

  2. If the person has or had a domestic partner (other than a spouse or civil union partner)—includes someone who would have been a relative mentioned in paragraph (1) if the person had been married to or in a civil union with the domestic partner; and
  3. Includes—
    • someone who has been a relative mentioned in paragraph (1) or (2) of the person; and
  4. If the person is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, the following people:
    • someone the person has responsibility for, or an interest in, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the person’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community;
    • someone who has responsibility for, or an interest in, the person in accordance with the traditions and customs of the person’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community; and
    • someone regarded and treated by the person as a relative; and
  5. Someone with whom the person has a family-like relationship; and
  6. Anyone else who could reasonably be considered to be, or have been, a relative of the person.

What if I need protection urgently?

At the time that you seek an application for a Final Family Violence Order, you may seek an Interim Family Violence Order.   You should mark the box on page 2 of the application form and provide a brief explanation as to why you need an Interim Family Violence Order.

If you lodge your application at the ACT Magistrates Court before 11:30 am on any weekday (that is not a public holiday) your application for an interim order will be heard the same day.  If you file your application after 11:30 am you should advise the staff that you are seeking an urgent interim order.  A registrar will assess the application and determine whether the matter will be heard by the Court on the same day or the next business day.

The Court is not open on weekends or public holidays.

If you seek urgent protection after business hours or on public holidays call ACT Policing on 000 or 131444.  The police may apply for an after-hours family violence order on your behalf.

What if I have children with the respondent can they be protected by a Family Violence Order?

Yes.    You can seek an order protecting your children (or children who live with you) from family violence.

If your children are over the age of 18 years old, they must make their own application unless they have impaired decision making ability.  If your adult child has impaired decision-making ability, you may be appointed as their litigation guardian

How much does it cost to lodge an application?

There are no court fees for making an application for a Family Violence Order.

Will the other party know where I am living?

Not if you do not want to disclose your address. You will be asked to provide to the Court details of your address and any information you have about where the respondent can be located.    This information will be used for the police and the Court to serve any documents or to advise you or the respondent about the court proceedings.

Your personal contact details (including your address and telephone number) will not be provided to the other party unless you give the Court permission to do so.

If you do not want the respondent to know where you live, please do not put your address on the application form.  Only provide these details in the ‘private and confidential formand the notice of address for service.

What is a preliminary conference?

A preliminary conference is a meeting with a deputy registrar of the Court.  The deputy registrar will seek to determine whether the application can be settled by consent before the application is heard by a Magistrate.

You will be required to attend a preliminary conference:

  • If an application for an interim order is made, as soon as practicable after the application for an interim order is heard;
  • If an interim order has not been applied for, the preliminary conference will be set for a time and date as soon as practicable after the application was lodged with the court.

This will usually be within three weeks of the above.

If you do not attend Court on the day of the preliminary conference, the Court may make a decision about the application in your absence.

Will I need to meet with the other party at the preliminary conference?

No, the other party will be required to attend Court at the same time.  But they will not be in the same room as you.  The deputy registrar will go between yourself and the other party to discuss whether the application can be settled by consent.

If you have concerns for your safety at Court please advise the staff at the counter and they will assist you.

What if the other party and I can not agree at the preliminary conference?

The deputy registrar will provide you with a date that the matter will be heard by a Magistrate.  This will not happen on the same day as the first preliminary conference.

What happens on the day of a hearing?

You will meet with a deputy registrar.  The deputy registrar will discuss with you and the other party (again in a separate room) about whether you can agree.

If not, you will proceed before a Magistrate.  You will need to be prepared to run your case. You need to bring to Court on the hearing day, any evidence or witnesses that you will be relying on to support your case.

When do I need a litigation guardian?

You will need a litigation guardian if you have impaired decision-making ability.

A person has impaired decision-making ability if the person—

  • cannot make decisions in relation to the proceeding; or
  • does not understand the nature and effect of the decisions the person makes in relation to the proceeding.

If you are a respondent to an application and you are between the ages of 10 and 14 years, you will be taken to have impaired decision making and will need to appoint a litigation guardian.

Who can be my litigation guardian?

Any adult who does not have impaired decision making ability may be appointed as a litigation guardian.  If you do not have an adult who can assist you, you can ask the Public Advocate to be your litigation guardian.

Contact the Public Advocates office on:  (02) 6205 2222

Public Advocate Website

A person may be appointed as a litigation guardian by completing ‘a Statement for appointment as a litigation guardian’.

How long does a Family Violence Order last?

If the Family Violence Order is an General Interim Family Violence Order, it will usually last until the Court can finalise the application for a Final Family Violence Order.   Sometimes, the Court may decide to make that period shorter, the date will be on the Order.

If the Interim Order is a Special Interim Family Violence Order it will be in place until the Court has finalised any related criminal charges.

A Final Family Violence Order will usually be in place for 24 months.  However, the Court may make this longer if there are special or exceptional circumstances.

What is a Special Interim Family Violence Order?

When there is an order for an Interim Family Violence Order and there are related criminal charges, the Court must make what is called a Special Interim Family Violence Order.

This means that the Court is prevented from finalising the application for a Final Family Violence Order where there are related criminal charges unless:

  1. the parties consent;
  2. the respondent or the applicant fails to attend Court on the date of the preliminary conference;
  3. the application for final order is discontinued.

A charge against a person for an offence is related to application for a final Family Violence Order and, if an interim order is made on the application, an interim order if:

  1. the person charged is:
    1. the respondent to the application; and
    2. a family member of the affected person; and
  2. the offence is against the affected person, other than an offence against s43 of the Family Violence Act 2016.

What if I need a change to the Family Violence Order in place?

You may apply to the Magistrates Court for an amendment to the Order.  An application may be made by lodging an application for amendment at the ACT Magistrates Court.

What if I want the Final Family Violence Order revoked?

A protected person or the applicant for the Order (eg the Police Officer who applied for the original order or the Litigation guardian may make an application for a review of the order.

A respondent to the original order may make an application for review only if they have leave of the Court.  The application for leave can be made at the same time as the application to review the order.