Victoria Legal Aid

Options for dealing with a family violence intervention order

Options for respondents to help the decide how they want to deal with an application for a family violence intervention order that has been made against them.

Respondents to a family violence intervention order have four options. You can:

  • agree to an intervention order being made
  • agree to an undertaking instead of an order being made
  • argue against the order
  • ignore the summons and not go to court.

Option 1 – Agree to an intervention order being made

You can go to the court hearing and agree to the intervention order being made. This is called consent. It means that you agree to obey the conditions set out in the application. Conditions are rules that restrict how you behave.

You can agree to the conditions even if you do not agree with what is said about you in the application. This is called ‘consent without admissions’. The court makes an order without deciding whether you did those things or not.

Agreeing to an intervention order does not give you a criminal record. You are not being charged with a crime. It is a civil matter, not a criminal offence.

However if you break the conditions of an intervention order, it becomes a criminal matter. You can be charged by the police with a criminal offence. If you are found guilty of breaking an order, you could pay a heavy fine or go to jail.

You should get legal advice. A lawyer can explain how conditions work in real life and any potential impacts they might have depending on your circumstances. At court, a duty lawyer may be able to help you to negotiate different conditions to what is in the application or family violence safety notice.

If you agree to an intervention order, you can still apply for family law orders about children and property. This can be complex so you should get legal advice.

Option 2 – Agree to an undertaking instead of an order

Sometimes an applicant may accept an undertaking. An undertaking is a formal written promise to the person who needs protecting and to the magistrate that you will follow certain rules.

If you break the rules of an undertaking, you can't be charged by the police unless you have committed an offence, but the applicant can bring their application for an intervention order back to court. Breaking the rules of an undertaking makes it more likely that an intervention order will be made against you, as you did not keep your promise to the applicant or the court. The court takes this very seriously. You can only give an undertaking if the applicant agrees to accept it. The applicant does not have to accept an undertaking. It’s their choice.

If the police applied for the intervention order, they will run the matter at court. This means they will speak for the affected family member. The police are less likely to agree to an undertaking, so you may need to consider your other options.

If the applicant agrees to an undertaking, their application for an intervention order is withdrawn. However, this does not stop them from coming back to court and asking for an intervention order in the future.

Option 3 – Argue against the order

If you don’t agree with the application, you can go to the court hearing and argue against the order or any of the conditions. Get legal advice before going to court.

You won’t get the chance to tell the magistrate your version of events on the first day you go to court. This is called the first mention date. You will need to go back to court for a contested hearing (intervention orders). You will need to go back to court for a directions hearing, and then for a final contested hearing.

If you have an interim order against you, that order will usually continue until the date of the final contested hearing.

The final contested hearing will be at least 28 days after your first mention date. However, a magistrate will only set a date for the contested hearing if both sides:

  • have had a chance to speak with a lawyer
  • are ready for the final contested hearing
  • agree to the date of the final contested hearing.

You need to arrange any witnesses who can support your story for the final contested hearing. They must have seen or heard something themselves, not just rely on what you or someone else has told them. You may need to send them a summons to get them to come to court. Ask the registrar about how to do this.

If you don’t agree with the intervention order, you will need to convince the magistrate at the final contested hearing that:

  • the claims made against you are false
  • you are not a future risk to the person needing protection.

If you do not organise a lawyer to represent you at the contested hearing, you will not be allowed to cross-examine the affected family member yourself. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the magistrate can make an order that our organisation arrange a lawyer for you. Speak to the court registrar about this.

If you have also been charged with criminal offences arising out of a family violence incident, those charges will be fast-tracked by the court, meaning that your matter will be dealt with more quickly. A contested hearing for the intervention order will only be listed once your criminal charges have been dealt with.

Option 4 – Ignore the summons and do not go to court

If you ignore the summons, the hearing can go ahead without you. You can’t delay the court hearing by not turning up. If the magistrate accepts that you have received the summons, they can make an order without hearing your side of the story.

The magistrate can also make decisions about contact with your children, even if the applicant did not include them in the complaint. See Family violence orders to protect children.

Even if you accept the intervention order, it is worth going to court to:

  • have your say about the conditions of the order, especially if you have children
  • make sure you understand the orders so you do not break the conditions later on.

If you are not at court, the police will give you a copy of the intervention order after it has been made. The order does not take effect until the police have served you with the order. See When an intervention order starts.

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

Reviewed 12 April 2022

In this section