If you are experiencing any of the above circumstances and are concerned that it will continue, you can apply to the Court for a restraining order to protect you, or your property, from someone who is threatening or harassing you. If that person breaches the terms of a restraining order, they commit a criminal offence and may be fined or imprisoned.
The legislation that covers restraining orders in Western Australia is the West Australian Restraining Orders Act 1997. Other states have their own legislation in setting up rules regarding restraining orders and in some states, such as Queensland, they are referred to as an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
You can apply for an FVRO if you require protection from a person who you are, or were, in a family relationship (e.g., married, de-facto partners, ex-partners) or otherwise in an intimate or family type relationship.
A Court can make an order in your favour if that person with whom you are, or were, in a family relationship, has subjected you to violence, threats of violence, or has subjected you to controlling or intimidatory behaviour that causes you to be afraid.
Violence Restraining Order (VRO)
You can apply for a VRO if the person you require protection from is someone you are not in a family relationship with (e.g., a colleague, friend, neighbour).
Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO)
If you require a person whom you are not in a family relationship with to be restrained from behaving in a way that could be considered intimidating or offensive or damaging your property, you can apply for an MRO.
National Domestic Violence Order Scheme
The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme commenced on 25 November 2017 where from this date, every new FVRO and police order will be automatically recognised and enforceable across Australia.
The most common restraining order is the Family Violence Restraining Order. Some restraining orders may require a fee when applying to the Magistrates Court.
For VROs and FVROS the process is, in most cases, fairly quick. Many Courts will either hear an application the day it was lodged or within a few days. The Court will hear your application without the other party being present and, if it is satisfied that there are grounds for an order it will make an interim order.
However, if your situation is an emergency with serious risk and requires urgent action, you should seek police assistance immediately. The police can sometimes issue a temporary restraining order (or a Police Order) that can last for 24 to 72 hours which can often provide enough time to have the court issue a full restraining order.
The court draws up the order and it is served on the other party, who has a certain period in which to object. If he /she does not object or consents to the order the order will become a final order. If he objects, the matter may go to a trial. If the Court is satisfied the order should be made it will make a final order.
The final restraining order approved by the courts is valid for 24 months.
Generally speaking, it takes longer to obtain an MRO than a FVRO or a VRO. Once an application is made the Court summons the other party to attend Court to determine whether the other party will oppose or consent to the application. Depending on the outcome of that hearing the Court will either make an order allowing the MRO (if the other party has been served and does not attend Court and the Court is satisfied that it is appropriate to make the order, or if he/she consents) or if he/she objects, adjourn the matter to a trial.
If you are considering or thinking about applying for a restraining order in Western Australia, it is highly advisable to speak to a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to help determine if you have grounds to apply for a restraining order and guide you through the process.
Contact Frost & Associates at (08) 9541 0384 or send us a message.