Carla Franchina, Senior Solicitor
We are all too frequently reading reports of domestic violence in the media. As this issue remains in the spotlight, domestic violence Protection Order applications are on the rise, as are the incidents reported to police for breaches of Domestic Violence Orders. Understandably, more media coverage breeds more questions, and we often see people asking exactly what protection is offered to victims of family and domestic violence. We have all heard the stories with a tragic ending despite a party obtaining a Protection Order. So what does a Protection Order do for you?
A Protection Order is made by the Court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence by putting limits on the other party’s behaviour. If you are in immediate danger or require urgent assistance, you can apply for an urgent temporary Protection Order which will remain in force until you get to your first Court date. You can also ask the Court to include the names of your children on the Order, or the names of other persons requiring protection (such as relatives, friends or workmates).
It is mandatory for any Protection Order to provide that the respondent must be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the persons named on the Order. The other conditions on a Protection Order vary from case to case, and can include stopping the respondent from:
- going to where you live or work;
- trying to locate you;
- going to places where your children frequently visit, like their school or day care centre;
- having any contact with you or other people named on the order.
Essentially, a Protection Order is a method of prevention. Once it is made, breaching it is a criminal offence.
While these Orders are a protective tool, obtaining a Protection Order can be a confronting and costly process. Sometimes the end of the relationship also means the end of any intimidating or harassing behaviour. If after separation you do not fear for the safety and wellbeing of you or your children, a Protection Order application ultimately may not benefit you both from an emotional point of view and a financial point of view. The Court must find that the Protection Order is necessary or desirable to protect you or your children from domestic violence before it may make a final Protection Order.
Unfortunately, as family lawyers we also often see Protection Order applications being used as a weapon against a former spouse in the context of a dispute regarding parenting matters. In our experience what these parties fail to realise is that if an application is found to be vexatious or false, this could reflect poorly upon a party relevant to their capacity to support a relationship between the children and their former spouse in any future parenting proceedings in the Family Law Courts. These applications should never be used as an attempt to influence the outcome of a dispute about children’s care arrangements.
If you need assistance to lodge a protection order application, or an application has been served upon you, our Brisbane family law solicitors at Best Wilson Buckley have extensive experience in family and domestic violence matters and can assist you for the duration of your proceedings.
Contact our office on 3210 0281 to make an appointment.