What is family violence?
The definitions of ‘abuse’ and ‘family violence’ under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) are comparable with those under most state-based family violence legislation. These definitions are purposely broad to capture a range of circumstances and behaviours that create fear and anxiety, and adversely impact a victim’s life.
Family violence is actual or threatened conduct by a family member towards another family member or property, that causes a person to be fearful or anxious about his or her safety or wellbeing. A child is exposed to family violence if he or she hears or experiences the effects of family violence.
Family violence can include actual or threatened assault or sexual assault, stalking, derogatory and intimidating remarks, intentional damage or destruction of property, unreasonable suppression of financial resources or support, and preventing or depriving a family member of his or her cultural connections or freedom.
Children may be exposed to family violence when they overhear threats towards other family members, witness or hear an assault of another family member, give assistance and comfort to a family member after an assault, or witness the attendance of emergency officers to an incident resulting from family violence.
Family Violence Order (FVO) and Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)
A Family Violence Order (FVO) and an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) is an order made by the court that prohibits a person from certain behaviour, such as harassment, stalking, intimidation, violence or the threat of violence.
Generally, both these orders are the same but are known as FVOs in the Australian Capital Territory and ADVOs in New South Wales. The purpose of these orders is to provide protection from violent behaviour in the future – it usually states that a person cannot behave in a certain manner or go within a certain distance of the home or workplace of the person lodging the complaint.
The court can make an order if a person (the defendant) consents to an order being made, or if evidence is heard proving that a person in need of protection fears violence or harassment by the defendant. The magistrate must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for these fears before making an order.
There are two types of Apprehended Violence Orders:
- Family Violence Order (FVO) or Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) – taken against a family member including spouses, ex-spouses and intimate partners (including de facto relationships); and
- Personal Violence Order (PVO) or Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) – for protection from someone other than family members.
No matter what the circumstances, family violence and abuse should not happen. Our experienced lawyers can assist with applications, injunctions and orders to help protect family members against actual or threatened violence.
If you are in immediate danger or fear for your own, or your children’s safety, we urge you to seek assistance through your local police.
What happens if someone tries to make an order against you?
The repercussions of breaching an order made against you are significant. If an application has been made for an order against you, it is recommended you seek immediate legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
You can object to the order and have the matter adjourned for trial at a later date, in which case an interim order will be issued until the trial date.