What is a Domestic Violence Order?
A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) is a Protection Order made by the Court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence.
The purpose of a DVO is to keep the aggrieved (the person who has experienced domestic violence) safe by restraining the respondent from committing acts of domestic violence. It can also include a wide variety of other conditions, such as prohibitions against the respondent from going within a certain distance of the home or workplace of the aggrieved, approaching relatives or friends of the aggrieved (if named in the order) or going to a child’s school or day care centre.
If you were in an intimate personal relationship, a family relationship or an informal care relationship (unpaid) and you have been the victim of domestic violence, you are entitled to apply for a Domestic Violence Order to protect your safety and the safety of any other person around you who has been exposed to domestic violence.
Read on to find out what domestic violence is, what the process is, how to file an application for a domestic violence order, what you need to prove and what you can do to boost your prospects of success of your application.
How do I file a Domestic Violence Order Application?
You can file a domestic violence order application in your local magistrates Court.
The Application can be accessed on the Queensland Courts website.
After your application is filed, it will be served by the police on the other party. In some circumstances, a temporary DVO will be made prior to the first ‘Mention’ date.
You are required to attend court on each and every occasion and advise the court why you say an order is necessary and desirable to protect you from the respondent.
What is the process?
In any Domestic Violence Order application, the process is as follows:
Why should I write my application the right way?
Writing a well worded application and Affidavit will boost your chances of the Court making a Domestic Violence Order in your favour.
Keep in mind that on the first Court date, a Judge will most likely only be able to read your application on the day they are handling your case.
Being mindful of the guidelines set out below will save you time, effort, and will help the Judge see your side of the story much more clearly.
What do I need to prove to obtain a Domestic Violence Order?
On the Application for a Domestic Violence Order (Form DV1 at page 4) there is a large box provided under ‘Grounds for a Protection Order’ for you to write down the reasons why you think the Court should make a DVO in your favour. You will be required to list specific examples of coercive or controlling behaviour by the respondent towards you (and other parties you seek to be named in the protection order) which you believe to be domestic violence.
Don’t worry if that box provides nowhere near enough room! It is completely normal to write ‘See attachment’ in the box and then attach your reasons to the form.
Your goal here is to express as clearly and concisely as possible the following elements which a Court needs to be satisfied of in order to grant a Domestic Violence Order in your favour:
- that there is a relevant relationship (intimate personal / family / informal care relationship);
- that domestic violence has occurred; and
- that a Protection Order is necessary or desirable to protect you.
In the Application, it is NOT helpful to cram in evidence that you want the Judge to look at (text message logs, pictures, videos). The judge will not consider that kind of evidence on the first court date and until a Final Hearing. Right now, you are aiming to write a well worded, concise application listing the most recent examples of domestic violence and reasons why an order is necessary or desirable to protect you from the respondent. A well worded application will enhance the prospects of a Temporary Protection Order being made and increase the chances of the other party consenting to the DVO being made. In doing so, you may avoid the loss of time, money, and effort if the respondent objects to the protection order being made and the matter has to be listed for a Final Hearing to determine your application.
Explain that there is a domestic relationship
At page 3 of the application, you will need to confirm that you were in a ‘relevant domestic violence relationship. This means that you and the respondent must be in one of the following categories:
- intimate personal relationship – two people who are, or were, a couple, engaged, married, in a de facto relationship, the parents of a child or in registered relationship; or
- family relationship – two relatives (by marriage or blood), including a child over 18, parent, stepchild, stepparent, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, nephew or niece, and for some community groups, a person who is not related by blood or marriage but is considered a relative; or
- informal care relationship – one person who is, or was, depending on another person for help with daily living activities (not including a paid carer under a commercial agreement).
Know what domestic violence is
Domestic violence is violence done in a domestic relationship. It includes a wide range of behaviours that attempt to control, dominate, or cause you fear for your personal safety. Examples include:
- Physical or sexual abuse – punching, choking, forcing participation in sexual acts, damaging property including pets, or threatening to do so.
- Emotional or psychological abuse – stalking, repeated texting, making insulting comments, blackmailing, preventing contact with family and/or friends, controlling appearance, threatening to expose sexual orientation.
- Economic abuse – denying, withholding, controlling or misusing money or property, or threatening to do so.
- Threatening behaviour – saying things or acting in a way to make someone feel afraid, threatening to commit suicide or self-harm, stalking.
- Coercive behaviour – forcing, intimidating or manipulating a person to do things they don’t want to do, such as sign a contract (perhaps for a loan) or legal document giving another person power over their affairs (such as power of attorney).
Give detailed examples of domestic violence and why a Protection Order is necessary or desirable for your protection
The most important factor the court will consider in determining whether an order is necessary and desirable to protect you from the respondent is whether there is extensive evidence to show that the risk of future domestic violence is significant in all circumstances.
The judge must therefore assess the risk of domestic violence against you now and in the future in the absence of any order. If the risk is deemed to be significant, then to make a domestic violence order is necessary and desirable. If the risk is not significant or probable, but real or possible, the court may still determine that a DVO is desirable in all the circumstances.
Where there has been domestic violence against you in the recent past, and where there is still some contact or proximity between you and the perpetrator of violence (such as living nearby each other, swapping children at agreed times), the judge will be more likely to recognize there is a real risk of future violence.
On the other hand, where the domestic violence is alleged to have occurred a long time ago, where there was genuine remorse, medical treatment, or changes of circumstances such as moving far away, the Judge may lean towards there being less risk of violence occurring in the future.
It is therefore important to explain to the Judge the circumstances which put you at future risk of domestic violence.
Consider explaining when you are in contact with the perpetrator of violence against you now and in the future. Do you have children together? Do you live in adjoining suburbs, Do they contact you regularly by phone or online? Do you run in to them frequently at the local shops? Do they have children who go to the same school as your children? These circumstances, combined with your examples of domestic violence, are painting a picture which will be of concern to the Judge and may assist them to form a conclusion that there is a real risk of you experiencing domestic violence in the future. This will increase the chances of the Judge making a DVO in your favour.
Be as specific as possible with examples
Be as specific as you can when giving examples of domestic violence. Include a date or range of dates if you can. Do not make allegations without specifying the date or approximate date the incident is said to have occurred. It is fine to say ‘on or about early February 2018′ if you cannot remember the precise date. Try and recall as best as you can what was said and the chain of events that lead to the domestic violence, the specific details that you say constitute the domestic violence and what occurred after the domestic violence. Do not use blanket statements such as ‘my partner was abusive and aggressive to me’. It’s fine to write ‘my partner said words to the effect of “you are a whore” on 1 January 2018.’ Don’t get hung up on word-for-word accounts, just be as specific as possible.
Don’t stray from the key points
Life is messy, and often an understanding of many little events is required to gain a complete understanding of large events. You need to make an executive decision on when to stop going ‘down the rabbit hole’ of an issue. Always keep in mind the key points you need to address, and don’t stray from there. Remember, Judges are always under time-pressure so make it easy for them to understand your arguments by keeping to the key points.
Don’t include evidence alongside examples in your application
The Judge cannot assess the evidence and make findings of fact (i.e. what is true and what is not true) at the first Court date (the ‘Mention’). This means that any evidence you have to support your application (e.g. text messages or emails or statements from witnesses) is not necessary for the purpose of the first court date. At that time, the Judge will briefly read your application and the grounds why you say a DVO is necessary and desirable. In most circumstances, where recent domestic violence is alleged to have occurred, a Temporary Protection Order will be made in your favour, until a Final Hearing.
However, keeping a record of evidence is a very smart move should your case need to go to a Final Hearing. Save your evidence for your Affidavit which you will be required to file prior to that time. At the Final Hearing, the Judge will want to see hard evidence to assist him/her to determine the facts and whether an order is therefore necessary or desirable to protect you.
Keep the key points of your application in the spotlight and front-and-centre. If you over complicate your application with too much information and less of the hard facts your application will become convoluted and the allegations you are alleging will pack less punch and lose their strength.
Don’t be vague or take the ‘shotgun’ approach
Nobody expects you to have kept track of everything. However, where you can be specific, it is stronger to be precise. The ‘shotgun’ approach of listing every vague memory you have of a domestic violence event may backfire and your specific key points may lose prominence.
I want More Information
For more information in relation to domestic violence applications, read our page Domestic Violence.
I am still a little uncertain – what can I do?
Applying for a Protection Order can be a daunting process. Are you still a bit unsure? Do you want to take some of the pressure off yourself and increase the prospects of success of your application? Let us help, your application can be another Barton Family Lawyers success story.
Contact Barton Family Lawyers now to book a confidential, no cost consultation with our family law expert, Courtney Barton. We will provide you with advice and a plan to enable you to protect yourself now and in the future.
Author: Adam Davey
Editor: Courtney Barton