The WA Restraining Order Act defines family violence as:
Family violence is not limited to physical violence. Behaviours that involve stalking, abuse, or which limit or control another family member from a physical, emotional, financial, psychological or sexual standpoint can also be classified as family violence.
The definition of a family member in the eyes of the law is fairly broad. Family members can include current and former:
It also covers the former spouse or former de facto partner of the person who wants to be protected.
If you are experiencing a family violence situation, you can apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) to seek protection from the Court. The FVRO was introduced in Western Australia on 1 July 2017 and is governed under the West Australian Restraining Orders Act 1997. The Act also covers other restraining orders such as Violence Restraining Orders and Misconduct Restraining Order.
To apply for a FVRO, you need to complete an application and lodge it at your local Magistrates Court. There are no fees associated with the application.
Most Courts will hold a hearing on the same day you lodge your application. The first hearing is usually ex-parte, meaning without the respondent’s (the person whom you are seeking protection from) presence. During the hearing the Court will determine if an interim FVRO should be issued. If an interim FVRO is issued, the police will then serve it to the respondent. The respondent has 21 days from the date they are served to file an objection.
If the respondent does not object or consents to the order the order will become a final order. If they object, the matter may go to a trial. If the Court is satisfied the order should be made it will make a final order.
Unless it is cancelled or a variation is made, the final FVRO is usually valid for 24 months.
A FVRO can include conditions to stop the respondent from doing certain things that they normally would be allowed to do. This may include things like:
The conditions in the FVRO can be shaped to suit your situation.
If the respondent breaches any of those conditions, they will be committing a criminal offence.
If your situation is an emergency with serious risk and requires urgent action, you should seek police assistance immediately. If you are experiencing family violence and require support, here are some support services that you can contact:
If you would like to file an application for a FVRO, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice first. The team at Frost & Associates are experienced family lawyers in representing clients in family violence matters whether it is for the applicant or the respondent. If you need any assistance with the application or representation at Court in relation to restraining orders, do not hesitate to contact our office at (08) 9541 0384.