You can apply to have a restraining order made by the court to protect you from someone who commits family violence or personal violence against you, threatens you or your property harasses, or intimidates you, and you are concerned that it will continue.
A restraining order is a court order intended to protect you (or your family members) from harm from someone who has, or is likely to, hurt you. Generally, there are two types of restraining orders:
- Violence Restraining Order (VRO); and
- Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO).
At Tang Law, we have experienced lawyers who can help you file for a restraining order with the Magistrates Court. You need to act quickly if you are, or fear that you will be, subject to an act of violence. Our lawyers are available to guide you through the court procedures which need to be followed when seeking a restraining order. We guarantee the utmost confidentiality in handling your legal matter and we strive to provide reliable legal advice on such a sensitive issue.
So, what is a Violence Restraining Order (VRO)?
There are different rules that apply if you are seeking a VRO against a person with whom you are in a “family or domestic relationship”. You are in a family or domestic relationship if the other person (against whom you are seeking a VRO) is your present or former spouse, de facto partner or girlfriend/boyfriend.
Generally, a VRO application is be made in person to the Magistrates Court but in some urgent situations it can be made through a police officer by telephone. Often, a VRO application in the Magistrates Court is made on an ex parte basis (meaning it was made without giving any notice to, and in the absence of, the other person) and if your application is successful, an interim VRO will be granted which will be valid until the next Court date.
The aim of obtaining a VRO is to prevent the other person from committing or further committing an act of abuse towards you so the common conditions to be imposed include stopping the other person from:
- coming within certain distances of you;
- attending or being near your home or place of work; and
- contacting you in any way including through third parties.
The fact that the Court makes a VRO against another person does not, in itself, mean the other person has committed a criminal offence (but sometimes the police may decide to charge the other person for his/her abusive conducts), however, breaching of a condition of the VRO is a criminal offence and may result in a fine and/or imprisonment being imposed against the other person.
And, what about a Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO?)
A MRO operates similarly to a VRO, the main differences being:
- You are not required to prove an act of abuse (which usually involve some elements of violence), rather, you will need to prove that the other party is likely to act in a way that is intimidating or offensive towards you or may cause damage to your property;
- The breach of a MRO may result in a fine being imposed, but not imprisonment, which makes it a less serious in nature than when a VRO is breached.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that if you fear that your safety or your family’s safety is at immediate risk, you should contact the police before considering any application for VRO or MRO.
How about an Injunction?
In addition to restraining orders, in proceedings in relation to children you may seek an injunction from the Family Court for, amongst other things, personal protection.
An injunction is an order made by the Court to restrain the other party from doing certain acts or things. Generally, an injunction may be appropriate in circumstances where the conduct:
- is serious or has had, or is likely to have, serious or extensive adverse consequences
- is systemic or poses ongoing compliance or enforcement issues
- is deliberate or reckless or where the entity involved is not being cooperative, or
- raises significant concerns of public interest.
Under the Family Law Act, the Family Court has the power to grant an injunction to protect the welfare of a child. The injunction may be:
- for the personal protection of the child, the child’s parents or other carers;
- to restrain a person from entering or remaining in a place;
- to restrain a person from relocating with the child or taking the child overseas.
Often, an application for injunction has to be made urgently and on an ex-parte basis, meaning without the other party being present in court. Ex parte applications are made in urgent and serious matters. You should get legal advice before making such an application.
For injunction in financial matters, please see Separation: Property/Disputes on financial matters].