Victoria Legal Aid

If you are a respondent in a family violence intervention order application

Find out what to do if you been accused of family violence or if a family violence intervention order application has been made against you

Anyone can experience family violence

It happens across communities and in all kinds of relationships.

Your experience of family violence might be different to someone else’s. A family violence intervention order is one way you can get protection. 

Our My safety tool can help you understand common separation issues, plan for your safety and find support.

You can also learn more about family violence support services.

You will get court documents if someone has applied for a family violence intervention order against you. The court documents may have information about:

Family violence and intervention orders are serious. It is important to get legal advice (talk to a lawyer) as soon as possible.

There is a Key things to remember summaryExternal Link at the end of this page.

What is a family violence intervention order?

A family violence intervention order is a court order to protect a person from family violence. Learn more about family violence and intervention orders.

Different types of court documents you may receive

If someone has applied for an intervention order against you, the police will give you court documents.

These documents could include:

The document will also list the people involved in the application. This includes the:

  • RespondentExternal Link – the person accused of family violence; they are called respondent because they are responding to the application – this is you.
  • ApplicantExternal Link – the person applying for the intervention order; this may be a police officer, someone seeking protection for themselves or someone else.
  • Affected family memberExternal Link the person who the order will protect; once an intervention order is made, they are called a ‘protected person’.

Getting an application and summons

The application explains why the applicant wants an intervention order.

The summons also gives the details of your court hearing, including the:

  • date
  • time
  • location.

The police will serveExternal Link (give) you the application and summons in person. If they cannot find you, they may ask a magistrate to make an order to deliver it to you in a different way. For example, through another person or social media.

Getting an interim order

The police may give you an interim order with the application and summons.

This is a temporary order the court makes until a magistrate can decide whether to make a final intervention order. It means the court believes the affected family member needs immediate protection from you.

When does an interim order start and end?

An interim order starts when the police give you a copy. It lasts until a magistrate decides whether to make a final family violence intervention order.

Once you get a copy of the interim order, you must follow its conditions, even if you plan to argue against the final order being made.

Learn more about conditionsExternal Link .

What happens if I do not follow an interim order?

If you breachExternal Link (disobey) the conditions of any intervention order, including an interim order, the police can arrest you and chargeExternal Link you with a criminal offenceExternal Link . Learn more about breaching an intervention order.

If you get a warrant

If you have seriously threatened someone’s safety or damaged their property, the police can get a warrant to arrest you.

If you are arrested, the police may release you on bailExternal Link if you agree to:

  • the bail conditions, which are usually the same as the conditions in the application for an intervention order
  • go to court on the date of your intervention order hearing.

You must follow all your bail conditions. If not, you could be arrested. A magistrate may then give you more conditions to limit your behaviour. They may also put you in custodyExternal Link .

Do I need to go the court hearing?

If you get a warrant, you must go to your court hearing, whether you agree with the intervention order being made or not.

If you do not turn up, you:

  • can be arrested and the police may keep you in custody until the next hearing
  • can be charged with a criminal offence – failure to appear on bail is a serious offence and can make it harder for you to get bail in future
  • will lose any money paid as surety as part of your bail conditions
  • may be ordered to pay court costs.

What are my options?

As a respondent, you have options for dealing with an intervention order application. You can:

  • agree to an intervention order being made
  • agree to an undertaking instead of an order being made (if this is made available to you)
  • argue against the order
  • ignore the summons and not go to court.

It is important to understand what these options will mean for you. For more information visit Options for dealing with a family violence intervention order.

We recommend that you go to your court hearing. If you do not go, the magistrate can still make an intervention order against you. You will also not be able to have a say about the conditions of the order.

For more information about attending court visit Going to court for a family violence intervention order.

Other important issues

Will I get a criminal record?

No. Having an intervention order will not give you a criminal record. It is a civil matter; you are not being charged with a crime. This means it is not on the public record, but the police and the court will have a record.

You could get a criminal record if you breach the order or safety notice. Breaching the conditions is a criminal matter. The police could arrest and charge you with a crime.

The police could also arrest and charge you if you act violently towards someone or damage their property, even if there is no intervention order.

Will this affect my job?

Maybe. An intervention order could affect your job if it stops you going to places where you work, or if you work with or near the protected person.

There are options, so if you think this might affect you, talk to a lawyer before your hearing.

You might not be able to get a licence to work as a security officer or get a security clearance. If you need security clearance for work, get legal advice.

If you breach the order and get a criminal record, this may make it harder to get certain jobs or travel in the future.

What about my gun licence?

An order can ban you from having a gun for the length of the order plus five years. It can also cancel any permits you have. The police can search for and remove guns and other weapons.

If you need a gun licence for a reason, such as your job, you can apply to be considered a ‘non-prohibited person'External Link through the Magistrates Court. The court will tell the police about your application and ask them to make a recommendation.

Do I have to leave home?

Maybe. A family violence safety notice or intervention order can include a condition that says you must leave the family home. This is called an exclusion condition.

This means you must not live in, visit or go near the home until the court says you can.

You can ask the magistrate not to include certain conditions in a final intervention order. An exclusion condition for example. Get legal advice before your hearing.

If there is an exclusion condition you must do what it says or you will breach the order. You do not lose your rights to the house or your things. You may be able to return later, for example with the police, to get your things.

If you must leave home, you can get legal and other help, such as finding somewhere to stay.

To get help, you could talk to:

What does ‘no contact’ mean?

If a court document says you must have ‘no contact’, this means you cannot communicate with the affected family member or protected person.

This means you must not contact them in person or through:

  • someone else
  • phone
  • text message
  • letter
  • email
  • social media
  • any other form of communication.

It is no excuse to say that you did not mean to breach the conditions. The police could still arrest and charge you with a criminal offence.

Exceptions to ‘no contact’

An order may include specific circumstances where you can communicate with the protected person. This is called an exception. For example:

  • you will likely be allowed to communicate through a lawyer
  • you might be able to communicate about collecting your things
  • parents might be able to communicate in writing (for example, text messages or email) for the purpose of child arrangements only.

If you are allowed to have contact with the protected person for any reason, it is very important that you do not:

  • do anything that could be considered family violence – if you do anything that comes across as intimidating, harassing or violent, you may be charged with breaching the order
  • talk to them about the intervention order or application – this could work against your case in court.

Think about how your behaviour might come across if you were someone else experiencing your behaviour. For example, if your children are included on the order, repeatedly watching them when they are in a park or on school grounds could be harassment.

You must not breach the intervention order or safety notice, even if an affected family member or protected person says you can. If you do not follow the conditions you could be arrested and get a criminal record.

Will I be able to spend time with my children?

Intervention orders can protect children. The magistrate will ask if your children have heard, seen or been exposed to family violence. If they have, the intervention order may stop you communicating or spending time with your children.

It is important to know that the magistrate can decide this even if neither parent has asked for it. It is the magistrate’s job to ensure children are safe.

You need to give the magistrate as much information as you can about your relationship with the children and how much time you spend with them. The magistrate needs this information to decide.

If the order says you cannot have contact with the protected person but can spend time with your children, think about how this might work. For example, you could ask for the order to allow contact with the protected person only for making parenting arrangements.

If you want to have contact or spend time with your children, get legal advice before the hearing. A lawyer can help you work out the best arrangement.

What if I also have a family law order?

If you have a family law order about children, an intervention order can say you are allowed to continue with your family law order arrangements. A magistrate making an intervention order can also change or suspend a family law order.

Learn more about children and intervention orders.

What if I am under 18?

If someone applies for a family violence intervention order against you, it is very important you get legal advice as soon as possible. There are services that will help people under 18 years old, including YouthLawExternal Link and The Orange DoorExternal Link .

A magistrate can make it a condition of the intervention order that you must leave your home (this is called an exclusion condition). If they make an exclusion condition, they must think about a few things first. This includes whether you have somewhere else to live and how you can keep going to school.

Key things to remember

More support and information

Visit Other support for violence, abuse and personal safety for information about:

  • legal services and how to find a lawyer
  • services to support you if you are First Nations, LGBTIQA+, a migrant, refugee, young or older person
  • services and counselling for people who use family violence
  • free booklets, fact sheets, videos and other publications and resources.

Publications and resources

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 05 June 2024

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