Common Questions About FVOs (ACT) | Armstrong Legal

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This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Common Questions About FVOs (ACT)


In the ACT, a Family Violence Order (FVO) is an order made by a court to protect a person from domestic violence by a family member. A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is an order to protect a person from violence by someone who is not a family member. FVOs and PPOs are governed by the Family Violence Act 2016. An order can be made when the respondent has committed violence against the person seeking protection or where there are reasonable grounds to fear that the respondent will use violence against the person. This article answers some questions that lawyers are often asked about the FVO and PPO system in the ACT.

What Happens if the Protected Person Doesn’t Attend Court?

An application for an FVO or PPO may be made by the person seeking protection or it may be made by the police. In a police application, there is no need for the person seeking protection to attend court for the first mention. The police will attend court and the respondent will also be required to come to court and either consent to the order or oppose it.

If the respondent consents to the order, the order will be made on the spot and there will be no need for the person seeking protection to come to court.

If the respondent opposes the order, the matter will be adjourned to a later date for a contested hearing. On that day, the court will hear evidence from both parties as to why the court should or should not make the order. The person seeking protection will generally be required to attend the hearing to give evidence, although in some situations they may be allowed to attend by videolink, especially if there are safety concerns about contact occurring between the parties.

If the application is made by the protected person, either through a lawyer or representing themselves, they will be required to come to court each time the matter is mentioned. If there are concerns about coming into contact with the respondent, an application to appear by phone or videolink should be made to the court well in advance of the court date.

What Happens if the Respondent Named in a DVO Doesn’t Attend Court?

When a person applies for an FVO or PPO, the application must be served on the respondent. If the respondent has been served with the application but does not attend court, the court will generally make the order in their absence. The police will then attempt to serve the order on the respondent. The order will take effect when it has been served.

In some cases, a respondent does not attend court for a good reason – for example, they don’t have transport to get to court or are experiencing a serious medical issue. In this situation, if the court is satisfied that they have made reasonable efforts to get to court and to inform the court of their situation, it may agree to adjourn the matter so that the respondent can attend on another date. The court may make an interim FVO or PPO so that the person seeking protection is protected in the meantime.

Does an FVO or PPO appear on a police check?

When an FVO or PPO is made against someone, it is a civil matter. When a police check is conducted, FVOs and PPOs that have been made against the person do not show up. However, if a person has been found guilty of breaching one of an order, this is a criminal offence that will show up on a police check.

How to Get the Other Side to Pay Your Legal Costs

Under section 73 of the Family Violence Act 2013, each party to an FVO or PPO matter must generally bear their own costs. However, the court can make an order for costs against the applicant if it considers the application was frivolous or vexatious. It may make an order for costs against the respondent if it considers it is appropriate to do so.

What evidence is needed for an FVO?

If an application is made for an FVO or PPO and the respondent opposes it, the person seeking protection will need to adduce evidence that the order is warranted. They will need to demonstrate that the respondent has committed domestic violence against the person seeking protection or that there are reasonable grounds for thinking the respondent will use family violence against the person seeking protection.

This evidence will usually include accounts by the person seeking protection of past incidents of violence, and any threats or intimidating behaviour. It may also include evidence from other people (police or civilians) who have witnessed the respondent’s behaviour. Objective evidence, such as CCTV footage, may also be tendered.

What happens if you lie to get a DVO?

Providing false information after taking an oath or affirmation to tell the truth is perjury, which is a criminal offence. A person can be charged with perjury if they knowingly give false information in an affidavit or while giving evidence in court.

In ACT, the law on perjury is set out in section 703 of the Criminal Code Act 2002. It carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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