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.

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Getting a lawyer for cross-examination in a family violence intervention order hearing

Learn how to get legal help for cross-examination at a final hearing for a family violence intervention order. The final hearing is also called a ‘contested hearing’.

Why do I need a lawyer for cross-examination?

At a final hearing you cannot cross-examine (ask questions of) another person if:

  • you have been accused of family violence against them
  • they have been accused of family violence against you.

This is to protect the safety of all parties.

You will need a lawyer to do the cross-examination for you. Under the Family Violence Protection Act , a magistrate can make a court order for a lawyer to help you with this cross-examination. We will organise this lawyer for you.

This is written on your court order as:

The lawyer for cross-examination is a free legal service , even if you are not eligible for any other legal help from us.

What can the lawyer help with?

The lawyer representing you can cross-examine (ask questions of) the other side for you.

The lawyer cannot:

  • represent you for any other part of the final hearing
  • help you prepare for the final hearing
  • help with any other legal problems you may have.

Find information on how to get more help for your legal issues.

How can I get a lawyer for cross-examination?

A magistrate can make an order for a lawyer for cross-examination at a directions hearing. This is where they will check everything is ready for the final hearing.

A magistrate will not make an order if you already have a lawyer for the final hearing.

If you do not have a lawyer (you are representing yourself in court), you should ask the magistrate at the directions hearing to make an order for cross- examination. If a duty lawyer is helping you with the directions hearing, they can ask the magistrate for you.

What happens next?

  1. After the magistrate makes an order for a lawyer, the court will send us a copy.
  2. We will contact you by email or phone to confirm if you want a lawyer for cross-examination.
  3. If you accept, a lawyer will be chosen for you. You cannot choose your own lawyer. The lawyer will have experience with family violence legal issues. This process can take up to six weeks.
  4. Once a lawyer has been chosen, we will send you their contact details. The lawyer will contact you. If you do not hear from them, you should contact them at least two weeks before your final hearing to prepare for cross-examination.
  5. We will let the court know that a lawyer has been assigned to your hearing.
  6. If we cannot find a lawyer to help you in time for your final hearing, we will let you know. We will also write to the court and they will decide what to do about your final hearing.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Court Ordered Family Violence team by email at fvcourtorders@vla.vic.gov.au or call (03) 9606 5361.

If you need legal help before the final hearing, you can:

Some people are eligible for free legal help for their entire final family violence intervention order hearing. This can include help with preparing for the final hearing and organising documents and witnesses. For more information, you can contact the Grants and Quality Assurance team on (03) 9269 0600 or by contacting us online.