Family Law Update – New Family Violence Restraining Orders

Posted 27th September 2017 by Dirk Klicker

New Family Violence Restraining Orders

In this Blog I discuss the law governing Family Violence Restraining Orders.

The West Australian Restraining Orders Act 1997 was changed on 1 July 2017.

If you apply for a restraining order after 1 July 2017 the new law applies.

There are now 3 types of restraining orders available in Western Australia:

  1. Family Violence Restraining Orders (“FVROs“);
  2. Violence Restraining Orders; and
  3. Misconduct Restraining Orders.

The focus of this Blog is the new FVROs.

In Western Australia, a person may apply for a FVRO against a person who theyare, or were:

  • married to, or
  • in a de facto relationship with,
  • related to,
  • in an intimate personal relationship with, or
  • in a relationship of a domestic nature with.

A person who applies for a FVRO is known as the “person seeking to be protected”.

The person who you allege committed the family violence is called the “respondent”.

Any person older than 16 years of age can apply for a FVRO.

In order to grant a FVRO, the Court must be satisfied that the respondent committed an act of Family Violence and is likely to again, OR that there are reasonable grounds to fear that the respondent is likely to commit an act of Family Violence.

In certain circumstances, you may also apply for a FVRO on behalf of a child who was exposed to Family Violence.

Examples of Family Violence include but are not limited to the following against a family member:

  • an assault or threat of assault;
  • sexual assault or sexually abusive behaviour;
  • stalking and cyber-stalking;
  • repeated derogatory remarks;
  • damaging or destroying property;
  • unreasonably denying financial support or financial autonomy;
  • preventing or keeping connections with family or friends;
  • publishing or threatening to publish intimate personal images; and
  • causing a child to be exposed to any of the above examples.

The definition of Family Violence is very broad.

In certain circumstances, where there is some matter that justifies the making of an urgent order or where it is impractical for you to go to the Magistrate’s Court in person, the Court will allow you to make an application for a FVRO by telephone call to the Perth Magistrate’s Court.

Typically, an application for a FVRO is initially heard in the absence of the respondent.  If the Court is satisfied that a FVRO should be made, it will grant an “Interim FVRO” and arrange for this to be served by the police upon the respondent.   The Interim FVRO comes into force from the date it is served upon the respondent.

Once a FVRO is granted, the respondent becomes known as “the person bound”.

An interim FVRO will state that it is an interim order and that the person bound has 21 days to object to the FVRO.

If the person bound does not object to the FVRO, then it will become a final FVRO for 2 years from the date the interim order came into force unless some other time frame is specified. Note this does not apply to a telephone order which becomes final. Telephone FVRO’s which become final typically only remain in force for 3 months.

If the person bound by the FVRO does object to the FVRO, then within the 21 days, you will be notified of this and a hearing date will be set.

For more information about restraining orders I recommend that you review the restraining orders section of services.

Application forms and fact sheets about applying for a FVRO can be found on the Perth Magistrates Court website by following this link and selecting “Restraining Orders” from the menu:

http://www.magistratescourt.wa.gov.au

If you are thinking about applying for a FVRO, I highly recommend that you consult an experienced family lawyer for more information or assistance in applying for a FVRO.

I also highly recommend that you consult an experienced lawyer if you are the respondent if you have an upcoming hearing with respect to a FVRO.

Beacon Family Law is successfully represented hundreds of clients in relation to restraining orders.

Alternatively, if you cannot afford a private lawyer, Legal Aid or a Community Legal Centre such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Sussex Street Community Legal Centre maybe able to provide assistance.

by Kylie Aquilina settled by Dirk Klicker