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Family Violence IVO

Family Violence Intervention Orders

Tuesday 15th of February 2022
By: Matthew Dodd, Solicitor, Coote Family Lawyers

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Police have taken out a Family Violence Interim Intervention Order against me - What do I do?

In certain circumstances, Police can make an Application for an Intervention Order (IVO) essentially on behalf of an Affected Family Member (AFM).  It can be highly distressing to be served with an interim IVO, especially if you are excluded from the family home, or from seeing your children. You must understand the conditions clearly and make sure you abide by them. Police have no discretion when it comes to breaches of an interim IVO, and it may lead to criminal charges against you.

Seek to have Police withdraw the Order

Once the application has been made, Police are unlikely to withdraw their support for the interim IVO. However, it does occur in limited circumstances. The withdrawal will need to be authorised by a police member with the rank of sergeant or above, or an appropriate senior police lawyer. Due to the nature of the negotiation, it is often best to engage the services of a lawyer to conduct these discussions on your behalf.  

Consent to an Order

If the interim IVO is limited in its conditions, or you just wish to finalise the matter, you can consent to the order without making admissions.  This means that you do not admit to or concede any of the allegations of family violence made by the AFM. If you elect to proceed down this path, the Magistrate will grant a final IVO. Commonly, this will be for 12 to 24 months, but note Magistrates are afforded significant discretion and can grant longer or even indefinite orders if they find it is appropriate to do so.

Agree to an Undertaking

An Undertaking is a formal written promise given to the Applicant and to the Court that you will abide by certain conditions, often the same conditions as those of the interim IVO. The Applicant must agree to accept the Undertaking from you. If you then fail to abide by any of the conditions, and therefore breach the Undertaking, you cannot be pursued criminally for those breaches.  However, the Applicant can revive their initial application for the IVO.

Police rarely agree to accept an Undertaking, even if the AFM consents.

Contest the Order

If you wish to contest the Intervention Order, it involves several hearings in the Magistrates’ Court. The 3 stages for contesting/challenging an Intervention Order are:

1)    Mention hearing;

2)    Directions hearing; and

3)    Contested hearing.

This process would normally take anywhere from 8 to 12 months, but due to the current backlog of cases arising from the COVID-19 shutdowns, this timeframe has increased. The interim IVO may continue to operate in the meantime. 

If there are any criminal proceedings stemming from the alleged family violence incident, the Court will seek to run both matters simultaneously, which can add to the timeframe.

Prior to the initial mention hearing, the police member (informant) will be required to conduct a Risk Assessment. The police member will enquire about any further family violence incidents or breaches, and they will also attempt to speak to the AFM and you before making an overall assessment regarding the Order. Due to the Court rules, this assessment is confidential, so its full contents will only be known to the Police Prosecutor.

A directions hearing is a short procedural hearing where the parties inform the Magistrate of the issues in dispute, the number of witnesses they intend to call, and the required time for the hearing.

A contested hearing is where the evidence of the parties is heard and considered by the Magistrate, and a determination is made. If you are successful, the Magistrate will dismiss the Police’s application and the interim IVO against you. However, if you are unsuccessful, the Magistrate will grant a final IVO and make the finding that you did commit family violence.

Evidence given in the Magistrates’ Court can be adduced in family law proceedings. It is therefore important that you understand the consequences on all aspects of your life prior to pursuing this course.

If you need advice or have any questions, please call our team of top Melbourne family lawyers on039804 0035.

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