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Common Questions About FVROs (WA)

In Western Australia, a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) is an order made by a court to protect a person from domestic violence by another person. FVROs are governed by the Restraining Orders Act 1997. An FVRO can be made when the respondent has committed domestic violence against a person or persons and is likely to do so again in the future or where there are reasonable grounds to apprehend that the respondent will commit family violence against the person. This article answers some questions that lawyers are often asked about the FVRO system in WA.

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

An application for an FVRO may be made by the person seeking protection or it may be made by the police. When the police make the 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 FVRO or oppose it. If the respondent consents to the FVRO, 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 attend court each time the matter is mentioned. The court may allow them to attend by phone or videolink if there are concerns about the person seeking protection coming into contact with the respondent. An application to appear by phone or videolink should be made well in advance of the date of the court mention.

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

When a person applies for an FVRO in WA, the application must be served on the respondent. They will be required to attend court on the date the matter is listed for its first mention. If the respondent has been served with the application but does not attend court, the court may make the order in their absence. The police will then attempt to serve the DVO on the respondent. The order will not take effect until it has been served.

In some cases, a respondent does not attend court for a good reason – for example, they are experiencing a serious medical issue. In this situation, if the court is satisfied that the respondent has made all 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 also make an interim FVRO if the applicant seeks one.

Does an FVRO appear on a police check?

When an FVRO is made against someone, it is a civil matter. When a police check is conducted, FVROs that have been made against the person do not show up. However, if a person has been found guilty of breaching an FVRO, this is a criminal offence and will show up on any police check that is conducted on them.

How to Get the Other Side to Pay Your Legal Costs in an FVRO Case

Under section 69 of the Restraining Orders Act, courts can make such costs orders as they see fit in FVRO matters.

An applicant must not be made to pay the respondent’s costs unless the court considers the application was frivolous or vexatious.

The court must not order costs against a police officer who has made an application on behalf of another person in good faith and in the normal course of duty.

What evidence is needed for an FVRO?

If an application is made for an FVRO 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 and are likely to do so again or that there are reasonable grounds for thinking the respondent will commit 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 by the respondent. It may also include evidence from other people (police or civilians) who have witnessed this 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 for knowingly giving false information in an affidavit or during oral evidence in court.

In WA, the offence of perjury is contained in section 124 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913. It carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

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

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

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.

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