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Domestic Violence Protection Orders

The law in Queensland allows a person to make an application to a Magistrate for an order which is aimed at protecting them from domestic violence.  Such an order is called a Domestic Violence Protection Order, or DVO for short.  There are a range of conditions that a DVO can contain, some of which are very significant and this page is designed to explain what a DVO is, how you can apply for one and how you can respond to one.

If you or a family member needs protection, or if you have to respond to an application for a DVO, we invite you to contact Townes & Associates for a cost and obligation free discussion about how we can assist.

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    Protection Orders

    Part 3 Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012

    Part 3 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, creates a regime by which a person – called an ‘aggrieved’ – can be offered protection by a Magistrate making an order called a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVO). An aggrieved can make an application themselves, they can authorise someone else to do it or a Police officer can do it on their behalf (and, sometimes, they will even do so against the wishes of the aggrieved).

    A person from whom the aggrieved is seeking protection is called ‘the respondent’.

    The application process

    To obtain a DVO, a person (normally the aggrieved or a police officer) must fill out a form, called an application for a protection order and file it with the Magistrates Court which is the closest to them.  The application form can be obtained from a courthouse, most police stations, the Queensland Courts website and it can also be completed online.

    Once the application is filed, the Court registry will allocate a date for the application to first be considered by a Magistrate.  The applicant must then serve a copy of the application on the respondent including the date that has been set for the first hearing.

    It is always advisable to have a police officer serve the application on the respondent – an aggrieved should not attempt service themselves.  If the police refuse to assist in serving the application, the applicant should hire a process server to perform that task.

    How a DVO is made

    Temporary and ‘permanent’ orders

    At the first court hearing, assuming the respondent has been served and attends court, the Magistrate can either make a temporary protection order or they can make an order permanently (meaning for an operational period of 5 years).

    What happens at the first court date for an application for a DVO is set out in the relevant tabs below.

    A DVO, whether it is temporary or permanent must contain the following mandatory condition (called a ‘standard condition’ in the legislation):

    “That the respondent must be of good behaviour toward the aggrieved, and not commit domestic violence against the aggrieved”

    If there are other people named in the order (for example relatives or children) the same mandatory good behaviour condition must be made in relation to each of them.

    In addition to this mandatory condition there are a range of additional conditions that an aggrieved person can seek for their own protection, or that a Magistrate can unilaterally impose if they think it necessary to do so.  Some particularly onerous examples of these extra conditions are:

    An Ouster condition, which requires the respondent to move out of their residence within a specified period of time (usually between 1 and 2 weeks).

    A non-contact condition, which prohibits a respondent from contacting or attempting to contact the aggrieved or, often times, a named person (like their children and/or relatives).

    A non-approach condition, which prohibits a respondent from being physically near (for example within 100m of) anywhere the aggrieved lives, works or is.

    If you would like to know more about DVO’s in Queensland choose any of the tabs below for more information for respondents and for aggrieved persons.

    A person becomes a respondent to a DVO when they are served with, or made aware of the existence of, an application for a Domestic Violence Protection Order naming them as the ‘respondent’ (from whom an aggrieved is seeking protection).

    A respondent has 3 options once they become aware of an application for a DVO (normally because it is served on them by the police).

    Do nothing: In this case a DVO will be made, likely containing all of the conditions which are asked for in the application, for an operational period of 5 years.  This order will be made in the respondent’s absence if they do not attend court when the application is being considered.

    Consent, without admissions, to the order: In this case the respondent can accept the making of the order, normally containing all of the conditions requested in the application, but without admitting the truth of any of the allegations of Domestic Violence which are made in the application. As in the first case, the order will – unless there is agreement to the contrary – be imposed for an operational period of 5 years.

    Contest the order: In this case the court will, over the course of 1 or 2 more court dates, set a date for the application to be heard and the Magistrate will make an order requiring the applicant and respondent to file affidavit material and any associated evidence that they intend to rely on at the hearing.

    Use the tabs below for more information about consenting to, and fighting a DVO.

    A respondent can consent to a DVO being made against them without admitting the truth of any allegations contained in the application.  Sometimes this can be an advisable course to take because to contest the order, and lose, risks the court making findings that acts of domestic violence did, in fact, occur (which can have implications for other legal areas like family law proceedings or security licencing and sometimes even employment).

    By proceeding on a ‘consent’ basis it is sometimes possible to negotiate for a reduction in the conditions which are asked for, like the operational period or the naming of children or relatives in the order.

    It should not, however, be assumed that a respondent can control, or even influence, the conditions to be contained in a DVO just by offering to consent to it.  Often times, the only way to prevent particularly severe conditions being imposed is to contest the making of any order at all.

    When a respondent indicates that they do not consent to a DVO being made against them, the court is obliged to set the matter down for hearing.  At a hearing, witnesses will give evidence, normally via affidavits and examination, and a Magistrate will decide whether there have been any acts of domestic violence and, if so, whether it is necessary or desirable that an order be made to prevent future domestic violence.

    The entire hearing process, from start to finish, can often take months and throughout this period the court will almost always impose a Temporary Protection Order containing conditions similar to those which are sought in the application.  A Temporary Protection Order has the same effect as any other more permanent order meaning that any breach can constitute a criminal offence and be punished harshly.

    There are strict procedural rules about how to conduct a contested DVO hearing and, if you are considering contesting a DVO being made against you, we strongly advise that you contact us for advice about your situation.

    Applications for a Domestic Violence Protection Order are heard in the Magistrates Court.

    Be conscious that a contested proceeding under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 is governed by the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules, not the ordinary rules criminal procedure and criminal evidence.

    Specifically, there is no presumption of innocence in relation to an allegation of domestic violence (in the context of an application for  DVO) and, while the applicant bears an onus of proof, it is only to the civil standard (‘on the balance of probabilities’).

    With the above two points being made, defending a DVO is not a hopeless endeavour – there remains a basic level of satisfaction that the court must reach before it can make the order; satisfaction that domestic violence occurred and, even if it did, that it is either necessary or desirable (or both) that there be an order in place.  

    If a person has suffered domestic violence and feels as though they need protection from the perpetrator, they can make an application to a Magistrate for a DVO (or they can authorise someone else to make the application on their behalf).  The police will often make an application for a DV on behalf of a person when they are called to that person’s assistance (sometimes the police will make this application even without the person’s consent and against their wishes).  The person who is to be protected under a DVO is called ‘the aggrieved’.

    To make an application for a DVO, a form (court form DV01 – application for a protection order) needs to be completed and filed with the Magistrates court (the form can be obtained from the court registry, downloaded from the court website, or it can also be completed online).  The application form contains all of the pertinent details of both parties (the aggrieved and the respondent) as well as a summary of the domestic violence which is alleged and the conditions which are requested in the order.

    Once the application is filed with the court registry it will be allocated a first court date (which the aggrieved will normally have to attend).  The application, with the allocated date, must then be served on the respondent in order to make the application valid.

    The police will normally serve a copy of an application for a DVO on a respondent (meaning the aggrieved does not need to do it themselves).

    Once an application is on foot, it is important that an aggrieved person attends the mandated court dates because, if they do not, there is a risk that the respondent will succeed in asking that the application be dismissed (meaning no order will be made in relation to it).  Naturally, attending court as an aggrieved under an application for  DVO can be a traumatic experience and it is therefore advisable to have a lawyer attend with, or for, you if you are in that situation.

    Sometimes, the circumstances which gave rise to an application for a DVO change such that both parties (the aggrieved and the respondent) want to change the conditions in the order.  For example, an order might initially prohibit a respondent from being within 100m of an aggrieved and their home.  Both parties might find, over time, that this condition is untenable because the respondent cannot assist the aggrieved by collecting and dropping off their children or maintaining their former family home.

    It is possible for anybody who is affected by a DVO to make an application to vary, which means change, the conditions in it.  This means that an aggrieved person, a named person, a respondent or an applicant all have the ability to make an application to vary an order.

    In practice, court’s will be reluctant to vary a DVO without a good reason and they will almost certainly not do so unless all parties to the order (including the police if it is a police application) agree to the variation.  Providing there is a good reason for the variation, and all parties agree, the variation is made by filling out a form (court form DV04 – application to vary a protection order), filing it with the Magistrates Court (ideally the same court that made the original order) and obtaining a hearing date. 

    After the application to vary is filed, all of the parties must attend court on the allocated date and convince the Magistrate that the order should be varied.  Depending on exactly what change is being sought this can be a fairly straightforward, or a nigh-on-impossible, task and we would strongly suggest that, if you want to vary a DVO you obtain some advice from a lawyer who is experienced in the area to better understand your prospects of success.

    A Police Protection Notice (PPN) is, in essence, a temporary domestic violence protection order, which can be made by an individual police officer when they suspect that domestic violence has occurred and conclude that a person requires protection.  A PPN is normally made when police are called to a domestic incident and they arrest and charge a person with a domestic violence offence (most often an assault of some kind).

    A PPN is, as a matter of law, taken to be an application for a domestic violence protection order which means that it not only imposes immediate conditions on a person (for example ouster and no-contact conditions) but it also requires them to attend a Magistrates Court to respond to the notice as if it is an application for a DVO (in which case the options and procedures relating to that application are the same as those described on this page).

    Facing a DVO?

    If you or a loved one needs protection, or if you have to respond to an application for a DVO, you should contact Townes & Associates for a confidential, cost and obligation free discussion about the situation and how we can help.  Use the form below to get in touch, leave your best contact telephone number and we will give you call back at no cost to you.

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