Protection Orders - What are they and what are their implications?

What is required to obtain a protection order?

To obtain a protection order, the person applying (the applicant) must prove three things:

  1. A domestic relationship exists;
  2. There has been domestic violence; and
  3. A protection order is necessary for their ongoing protection.

Someone you share a house with, a family member or someone you share a close personal relationship with may be classified as a ‘domestic relationship’. At times, this will include a ‘friends with benefits situation’.

‘Domestic violence’ includes things such as intimidation, harassment and limiting someone’s access to money.

When assessing whether a protection order is necessary the Court consider things such as the extent of the violence and whether any other protective measures have been taken.

Defending an application

If a judge grants an application for a protection order, the order is made on a ‘temporary’ basis and the other party (respondent) is directed to attend a stopping violence course. The respondent is served with the application and an affidavit setting out the allegations the applicant has made. The respondent has three months to defend the application or the order automatically becomes ‘final’.

The respondent may defend the application by filing a notice of defence and affidavit in response. If no agreement is reached between the parties, the application will be set down for a hearing in the Family Court before a Judge. The Judge will consider the affidavits filed and anything else the parties have said in Court and decide whether a protection order should be granted.

Effects of a protection order

All protection orders prevent the respondent from being physically, sexually or verbally abusive towards the applicant. However, all protection orders also prevent the respondent from having any contact with the applicant without their consent. This includes Facebook messages, texts and emails.

It is a criminal offence to breach a protection order, with the offence carrying a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment. In theory, a person can be arrested for sending the applicant text messages without their consent.

We have experience in applying for and defending applications in the Family Court (including Family Court hearings). If you have been served with an application or wish to make one, please feel free to contact us. This includes parenting, protection and guardianship issues.