What Is a Family Violence Intervention Order?
A family violence intervention order is an Order of the Court that provides protection from one person against family violence (in its various forms) from a family member.
A 'family member' under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) means:
- Person who is or has been, the relevant person's spouse or domestic partner; or
- A person who has, or has had, an intimate personal relationship with the relevant person; or
- A person who is, or has been, a relative of the relevant person;
- A child who normally or regularly resides with the relevant person or has previously resided with the relevant person on a normal or regular basis; or
- A child of a person who has, has had, an intimate personal relationship with the relevant person.
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 defines each of these categories.
The person who is subjected to family violence, and whom seeks the protection of an Intervention Order is referred to as the Affected Family Member, and the person who is alleged to be responsible for the family violence, and to whom an IVO is directed, the respondent.
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 provides an expansive definition of 'family violence" and it can includes various forms of abuse: sexual, physical, emotional, and financial.
The AFM in their application to the Court for an IVO must disclose the allegations which support the Court making the IVO in their favour.
Accordingly, the Court must ultimately determine whether the application for an IVO establishes that family violence occurred, and if so satisfied, the duration of the Order.
A respondent to an IVO has the right to contest the application. Where IVO applications are contested the Court must set a timetable for the hearing and final determination of the application.
The application starts the process, but it is the contested hearing of evidence which will conclude the case, particularly where there is not prospect of resolution at an earlier stage (for example where an Order is made with consent, on a without admission basis).
Where an application for an IVO proceeds from the first listing of the case (the mention date), to subsequent court dates, it is common for the Court to make an Order on an interim basis. This interim order may operate until the contested hearing of the case, whereupon the Court will either make or decline to make a final order depending upon whether the evidence (on the balance of probabilities) establishes that the AFM has been subjected to family violence by the respondent as alleged in the application.
Conditions of a Family Violence Intervention Order
Once a Magistrate determines that there are grounds to Order an Interim Family Violence Intervention Order, the Order will be served upon the respondent, and will contain a number of conditions including:
- Prohibiting the respondent from committing family violence against the protected person; and
- Excluding the respondent from the protected person's residence in accordance with section 82 or 93; and
- Prohibiting the respondent from approaching, telephoning, or otherwise contacting the person, unless in the company of a police officer or a specified person
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008, defines 'family violence' to include behaviour that is:
- Physically or sexually abusive;
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
- Economically abusive; or
- Coercive or
- In any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or
- Behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of physical or sexual abuse
Who can be included on a Family Violence Intervention Order?
An application can be made personally by the person in need of the Intervention Order. Alternatively, and frequently the police will make the application on behalf of that person. The person to whom the Order is in favour of is known as the Affected Family Member, or the protected person. As the Intervention Order covers persons involved in a family relationship, more than one person can be covered by the terms and conditions of an Intervention Order.
It is commonplace for a spouse and their children to be covered by an Intervention Order. Importantly the conditions of the Intervention Order apply equally across all protected persons covered on the Order. It is frequently the case that the children of an AFM will be included in an Order, and the respondent will be prohibited from contacting or approaching AFM, and by extension the children, unless a Family Law exception applies.
How long does a Family Violence Intervention Order last?
Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic), the Court may grant (if satisfied there are grounds) a Family Intervention Order in favour of an AFM (affected family member) on either an interim or final basis.
Where an application has been made, but not yet finalised, the Court may grant an Intervention Order on an interim basis. This type of order binds the parties over until the next Court date, whereupon a further Interim Order may be made until the final determination of the case.
The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) empowers the Court to also make Final Orders. A respondent may consent (usually without admission) to the terms of the Final Order including the proposed duration. Alternatively, the Court after hearing evidence at a contested hearing, if satisfied on the basis of probabilities, that family violence has occurred, and the AFM requires the protection of an Intervention Order, make a Final Order which for a period of time the Court determines as appropriate.
Most frequently the duration of a Family Violence Intervention Order will be for a period of 12 months, however if the circumstances warrant a longer period, the Court may so order.