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If you are in a domestic relationship with someone or have been in a domestic relationship with them and you fear they are going to be violent toward you or have been keeping you from accessing money you can apply for a domestic violence order.

 

 

Introduction

Domestic relationships and what domestic violence is are defined in the Domestic and Family Violence Act.

A domestic violence order (DVO) is a protection order made by the Local Court to protect you against domestic violence or threats of violence.

It can stop someone from doing all of the following:

  • contacting you
  • using violence against you
  • causing damage to your property, including injury or death to animals
  • threatening to use violence against you
  • verbally abusing you
  • stalking and harassing you
  • selling your property without your knowledge
  • pressuring you to give them money
  • exposing your children to domestic violence.

If a DVO is made and the person who is the subject of the DVO breaks the rules then they can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.  

Rules of a domestic violence order

There are three common types of domestic violence orders. The orders will be made between the defendant (the person who the order places conditions on) and the protected person (the person/s who the order is made to protect).

These common orders are often referred to as:

  • full non-contact – where the defendant is restrained from approaching or staying anywhere the protected person may living working visiting or located or contacting the protected person by direct or indirect means including through Facebook, or other electronic means or using another person to initiate the contact.
  • non-contact while under the influence of an intoxicating substance – no contact (as in a full non contact order) if you are affected by alcohol or other drugs or is consuming alcohol or other drugs.
  • non violence – where a defendant is restrained from causing harm threatening or attempting to cause harm to the protected person, causing damage, threatening or attempting to cause damage to the protected persons property and intimidating, harassing or verbally abusing the protected person.

Who can apply for a domestic violence order

You can apply for a domestic violence order (DVO) against another person if you are either: 

  • in a domestic relationship with them; or
  • an adult acting on behalf of another adult or child who is in a domestic relationship with the person. 

Other people who can apply for a domestic violence order against another person are:

  • a police officer; or
  • a Territory Families officer.

Domestic relationship definition 

A domestic relationship can be between any of the following:

  • married or de facto partners
  • relatives such as mothers, fathers, sisters, cousins and in-laws
  • relatives according to Aboriginal tradition
  • partners who are dating or are engaged to each other
  • people who live or have lived together, including housemates or former housemates
  • people who are in a carer’s relationship.

If you need protection from someone who is not in a domestic relationship with you, you can apply to the Local Court for a Personal Violence Order (see below).

Responding to an application for a domestic violence order

If you have been served with an application for a DVO or served with a Police DVO there will be a date and time you will be required to attend court to respond.

You should make sure you go to court on the allocated day otherwise an order is likely to be made without you being present and the orders made may be in different terms to the orders sought in the application. 

With a police DVO you will already have an order against you and at the first date before the court you will be asked to tell the court if you agree with the order or not and if not the court will adjourn the matter and set it down for a contested hearing at a later date where it will decide whether the order should be confirmed.

While there is a DVO in place, whether it be a police DVO or an order made by the court you must obey those orders. If you don’t you could be arrested and sent to prison.

Going to court for a DVO application

When an application is made for a DVO the defendant will be given a copy of the application and the affidavits in support of the application. The first date when the application is mentioned before the court is determined by the court.

Each Registry of the Northern Territory Local Court has different days when they hear DVO applications. In the three main courthouses, the DVO court days are as follows:

Darwin - Mondays and Fridays

Alice Springs - Thursdays and Fridays

Katherine - Mondays

This scheduling may change from time to time so it is best to rely on the paperwork you are given or if in doubt call the court.

The application relating to you will not be the only application listed for the same date and time. Often there can be up to 40-50 matters listed on the one day. When you get to the court you should let the court officer know you are present so that the Judge is aware you are in the court.

Who can help?

Whether you are defendant to an application for a DVO or the protected person you can get some help from the following services:

Darwin

Domestic Violence Legal Service, Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, Top End Women's Legal Service, North Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Service

Alice Springs

Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, Central Australian Women's Legal Service, Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit

Katherine

Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, Katherine Women's Legal Service, North Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Service

It is important to speak to a lawyer about these applications even if you do not use that lawyer at court. It is important to speak to a lawyer because of the serious consequences these orders can have on your life both as a defendant and protected person.

For further information on Domestic and Family Violence or obtaining Domestic Violence Orders, see:
•    The NT Law Handbook
•    Family Violence Law Help 
•    1800 Respect
•    Law Info Northern Territory 
•    Family Law Guide
 

Personal Violence Restraining order

A personal violence restraining order (PVRO) is a protection order which relates to people outside of a domestic relationship with you and is governed by the Personal Violence Restraining Order Act

You can apply for a personal violence order against any of the following people: 

  • neighbours
  • work colleagues
  • personal and professional associations.

It can stop someone from:

  • contacting you
  • using violence against you
  • causing damage to your property, including injury or death to animals
  • threatening to use violence against you
  • stalking or harassing you.

How to apply for a personal violence order

  1. You must fill in the personal violence order form (15.3 kb).
  2. Submit your form to the Civil Registry at the Local Court.

The application will be given a date and time before the court but will not be considered by the court until the defendant to the application is served with the application. Once both parties are before the court they can agree to terms of an order or if they are still in disagreement, the matter will be referred to mediation. Mediation may be arranged through the Community Justice Centre.

The court cannot consider a contested application for a PVRO until a mediation has taken place.

If the matter is not resolved at mediation you will then come back to the court and a date will be given for a hearing where each of you and your witnesses can give evidence and the court will decide if it is necessary for an order to be made and what should be the terms of that order.

Who can help?

If you need legal advice about PVRO’s you can get free legal advice from the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission by calling 1800 019 343.