Victoria Legal Aid

Before a respondent goes to court

What respondents should do to help them prepare for the intervention order hearing.

If you are the respondent to a family violence intervention order there are things you can do to prepare for your hearing, including:

  • getting legal advice
  • letting the court know if you can’t attend the hearing
  • letting the court know if you need an interpreter to help you
  • considering your options
  • following the conditions of the interim intervention order or family violence safety notice (even if you do not agree with the application).

Prepare for your hearing

Before going to court you should:

  • get your evidence and paperwork together, including copies of any criminal charge sheets, bail or family court orders.
  • work out whether you have any witnesses. You don't need to bring any witnesses with you to your first court date.

Get the court registrar to arrange an interpreter for the hearing if you need one.

Family violence is serious, and so are intervention orders. It’s a good idea to get legal advice before going to court.

Legal advice will help you be prepared for court, especially if you:

  • disagree with the order being made or any of the conditions
  • have children who may be affected by the 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).

It is also important that you understand:

  • what the order means
  • how this affects your behaviour
  • what happens if you disobey the conditions of the order.

See Other support.

Let the court know if you can’t attend the hearing

If you can’t attend the hearing, 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 both sides agree.

Consider your options

It’s a good idea if you know what you want to do. See Options for dealing with an intervention order.

If you agree to the order but do not want to go to court, you can write a letter or email to the registrar telling them this.

If you are on bail, you must go to court.

Contact with your children

If you want to see your children, get legal advice before the hearing. A lawyer can help you work out the best arrangement.

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 make a decision.

If the order says you cannot have contact with the protected person but you can see your children, think about how this might work. For example, you could ask the magistrate for the order to allow contact with the protected person, but only when you see the children.

You do not want to risk breaking the intervention order so make sure the order is tailored to suit your circumstances.

Do not contact the affected family member

Do not talk to the person who needs protecting about the application. It could be used against you at the court hearing.

You may also be breaching bail conditions or an interim order. See breaking the intervention order.

This also applies when you are at court. If you start an argument in the courthouse, court security can get involved and you may get arrested. This will not help your case.

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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Reviewed 12 April 2022

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