To prepare for a family violence intervention order hearing you should:
- get legal advice
- write up a list of your evidence and witnesses to support your application
- let the court know if you are concerned for your safety at the hearing
- let the court know if you can’t attend the hearing
- let the court know if you need an interpreter.
You do not need to bring your witnesses to court unless the respondent disagrees with your application and it is listed for a final contested hearing. This is where a magistrate will hear all the evidence and decide whether a family violence intervention order should be made.
Get legal advice before going to court
Going to court is a legal process, so it’s a good idea to get legal advice before you go. Legal advice will help you be prepared, especially if you:
- have children who will be affected by the order
- already have a parenting order
- have needs that the court should consider (for example, you run a business from home which could be affected if you have to leave the house)
- feel unsafe or afraid about going to court, as special arrangements can be made.
The magistrate will want you to get legal advice if the respondent disagrees with the intervention order being made. You can ask to speak with a duty lawyer if you are unable to get legal advice before going to court.
See Other support for violence, abuse and personal safety.
Prepare for your hearing
Before going to court you should:
- get your evidence and paperwork together
- work out whether there are any witnesses who can support your story – they must have seen or heard something and not just rely on what you or someone else has told them. You don't need any witnesses to come to court on the first court date
- ask a support person, such as a family member or friend, to go with you to court if you want.
You may also want to ask the court registrar to:
- get an interpreter for the hearing
- arrange another way of giving evidence, if you are worried about having to face the respondent in court
- help you to arrange a summons to get a witness to go to court.
It’s best not to take children to court as you might have to wait a long time for your hearing. Children may not be allowed in the court room and childcare is not available. Arrange childcare if you need it.
Let the court know if you are concerned for your safety
If you are worried about your safety at court, let the court registrar know. They may be able to make special arrangements to make sure you are safe.
If the respondent is trying to scare you out of going to court, tell the police or the court registrar immediately. You can also contact one of the support services listed in Other support.
Let the court know if you can’t attend the hearing
You should go to your hearing. If you do not attend the hearing your application could be dismissed. The magistrate can make an order even if you are not there but it’s important for you to have your say so you get an intervention order that works for you.
If you want to change the hearing date, give the court as much notice as you can. You will need to contact the court registrar and explain why.
Changing the date of a court hearing is possible, but it can be hard to do. Once the date for a hearing has been set, the court may not be willing to change it unless the respondent agrees.
If you want to withdraw your application
If you change your mind about needing the order, you need to fill in a written notice of withdrawal. Contact the court to find out how to do this.
If the police have applied for an intervention order to protect you, you must speak to them if you want the application withdrawn. The police might not agree to withdraw the application if they are concerned for your safety.
You can also go to court and let the court registrar know you want to withdraw your application. A duty lawyer at court can help you with this.
If you don’t let the court know that you want to withdraw your application, and the respondent comes to court with a lawyer, you may have to pay legal costs.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au
Reviewed 12 April 2022