By Tamara Kotowicz
Whether you are being protected by a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) or if there is an application for a FVIO against you, the process can be overwhelming. We have detailed the most important things to know before you attend court.
Important! During any level of COVID Restrictions you can leave home to escape family violence at any time.
What is family violence?
Family violence is behaviour that causes a family member to be fearful for their safety or wellbeing. This does not only include physical or sexual abuse, but can also be emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse, threatening or coercive behaviour or any other behaviour that causes a family member to be fearful.
How to Apply
If you are in immediate danger, contact the police by calling 000.
If you are not in immediate danger and it is safe to do so you can:-
- Contact your local police station.
- Apply in person at your local Magistrates Court. In the Barwon area, there are Magistrates’ Courts at Geelong and Colac.
- Online on the Magistrates Court of Victoria website.
I have to go to court, what next?
You must attend court. If you have made an application or if you have been served with a notice that an application for a FVIO has been made against you, you must attend court unless you are told otherwise by the court, police or your lawyer. If unsure, you should still attend.
If you are the respondent and you do not attend court then the court can make orders in your absence.
If you have made an application and you do not attend court then the court can dismiss your application. This means you will need to apply again if you still want the order.
If you are unable to attend court on the day of the hearing you should urgently get legal advice and contact the court.
Common Language used in FVIO’s
Applicant – is the person applying for the FVIO
Respondent – is the person who the applicant says has committed family violence
Affected Family Member (AFM) / Protected Person – is the person who needs the FVIO
Conditions – are the rules the Court set’s out in the FVIO that the Respondent must follow
Interim Order – is a temporary Order. Usually, interim Orders can be made immediately and take effect as soon as the Respondent receives the paperwork. They stay in place until final Orders are made
Final Order – is an Order that is made at a Court hearing, either by agreement between the parties or after a Magistrate has heard evidence from both sides.
You may be required to attend court several times before the matter is finalised. Ensure you take any documentation or other evidence which supports your application with you to each court date.
The first hearing, also known as the first mention, is when the respondent, the applicant and/or the affected family member tells the court what they want to do about the application. The matter can finish on this day if an agreement can be reached.
If no agreement is reached then the matter will be adjourned (another hearing scheduled) to a further mention or directions hearing. If the matter is not resolved at the further hearing, then a final hearing will be listed on another date.
At any of these hearings, you can negotiate FVIO conditions to suit your situation to try and finalise the matter sooner.
You do not need a lawyer before you attend the first hearing. If you would like to speak to a lawyer, let the court know when you arrive. For the first hearing we can give free legal advice and representation in Court. We cannot represent you at a final hearing.
I have children – How does the FVIO affect them?
Whether you are the respondent or affected family member, if there is a FVIO in place and this affects your child or children’s time with a parent, it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible.
Tamara Kotowicz is a community lawyer at Barwon Community Legal Service specialising in family law, family violence and victims of crime. Tamara believes knowledge is power. No two legal matters are the same so it is essential to get legal advice early. If you don’t know who to call, contact us and we can either refer to one of our own lawyers or refer you to another appropriate service.