What are Domestic Violence Orders?

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Domestic and family violence comes in many forms and is not limited to physical violence. It can occur in many different types of settings and can be experienced directly or indirectly. The law in Queensland has a broad definition to the meaning of Domestic violence. It includes behaviour that:

is abusive in a physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial sense;
is threatening or coercive;
is controlling or domineering; or
causes a person to fear for his or her safety and wellbeing or that of someone else.

A person that has experienced domestic violence can make an application to the Courts for domestic violence orders. This article discusses the types of domestic violence orders available in Queensland.

Two types of Domestic Violence Orders

A Domestic Violence Order (“DVO”) is an Order made by the Court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence.

There are two types of DVO:

  1. a protection order; and
  2. a temporary protection order.

The Court may make a protection order if:

  • a relevant relationship exists (eg. intimate personal relationship, family relationship or an informal care relationship);
  • the Respondent has committed domestic violence against the Aggrieved; and
  • the protection order is necessary or desirable to protect the Aggrieved from domestic violence.

The third element is not required for a Court to make a temporary protection order because the purpose of a temporary protection order is to protect those in immediate danger until the Court can decide the application for a protection order. As such, it has a shorter duration than a protection order.

In certain circumstances, a police officer may apply for a temporary protection order against a person if they reasonably believe that a DVO will not be decided quickly by a court and to protect the aggrieved from domestic violence.

The duration of a protection order is five years. However, the Court can shorten or lengthen this duration if it sees fit.
An example of the wording of a DVO stating the end date of the Domestic Violence Order:

What are DVO Conditions?

Every DVO has the standard condition that the Respondent be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence against the Aggrieved or any other person named in the Order if they are at risk of violence.
If a child is named in the Order, the Respondent must be of good behaviour towards the child, not commit domestic violence towards the child and not expose the child to domestic violence.

A DVO can have other conditions , including prohibiting the Respondent from:

  • remaining at, entering or attempting to enter or approaching the Aggrieved at home or work;
  • contacting the Aggrieved or asking someone else to contact the Aggrieved;
  • being present at or in a place associated with a child, including school or day care centre; and
  • trying to locate the Aggrieved or asking someone else to locate the Aggrieved.

Once in place, the parties to a proceedings get a copy of the DVO and the Court must ensure that the parties understand the DVO.

What happens if a respondent does not comply with a DVO?

It is a criminal offence to disobey any of the conditions of a DVO. The Aggrieved should be advised to contact the police immediately if the Respondent breaches the DVO. A police officer can change the respondent with an offence.

How does a DVO work with a Family Law Order?

Orders about parenting arrangements after separation are made in the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court of Australia pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”). DVOs on the other hand are made in state-based Magistrates Courts pursuant to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld).

Both pieces of legislation recognise the interrelationship of parenting issues and DVOs and by law, people must inform a Court if there is an existing or pending DVO involving themselves of their children.

A parenting order that is made under the Family Law Act 1975 (‘FLA’) will override any inconsistent conditions in a DVO. This is because federal law overrides state law. The FLA allows state courts to amend, discharge or suspend parenting orders to remove an inconsistency with the proposed DVO. For example, where the parenting order allows contact between the respondent named on the DVO and a child that is restricted under the DVO. The court however, must be satisfied that it is appropriate to amend, discharge or suspend the parenting order because a person has been or is likely to be exposed to domestic violence as a result of the parenting order.

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act makes it clear that the court must not diminish the protection given by the DVO to facilitate the parenting order. The purpose of this is to ensure that an aggrieved and their children are protected from domestic violence.