Are you wondering what to expect at a restraining order hearing?
Our team of VRO lawyers in Perth have put together this short guide with what to expect at a restraining order hearing and everything you need to know about restraining order hearings in Western Australia.
What To Expect At A Restraining Order Hearing
Applying For A Restraining Order
In Australia, anyone who has been a victim of any form of violence or abuse, whether physical or emotional, or feels threatened by someone, may apply to the Magistrate Courts for a restraining order, upon which the Courts will notify the respondent and set a date for an Interim Hearing.
Application forms are available from any Magistrate Court or by downloading them from their website.
Considering that there are several types of restraining orders, each with their own complicated procedures, and the severity of the situation that you may be facing, it’s highly advisable to obtain legal advice and apply through a VRO lawyer, although it is not mandatory.
In your application, you may indicate whether you prefer to hold the Interim Hearing, with or without the respondent being present.
In the case of the respondent not being present, you will be required to give verbal evidence or provide an affidavit, stating the reasons for seeking a restraining order.
If the Court grants the order, it will order the police to serve an Interim Restraining Order on the respondent. If the Court dismisses your application, it’s not the end of the world. You still have the options of withdrawing or continuing it.
Should the respondent attend the interim hearing, but disagree with your application, the case will be postponed to the next available trial date, often referred to as a Mention Hearing.
There is no need to bring witnesses to the interim hearing, but you may do so at the final hearing.
Giving Evidence In Court
Giving evidence in Court can be a daunting task for most people, especially in such cases such, where there is a threat or history of violence or abuse. It is therefore crucial to come to Court fully prepared and have some knowledge of courtroom etiquette and how you are expected to conduct yourself.
Basically, you will need to describe the acts or threats of violence or abuse that necessitated your need to seek a restraining order. Evidence may be presented orally or by sworn affidavit. If you’re intimidated giving evidence in the presence of the respondent, you may do so by closed-circuit TV or from behind a screen.
Interim Restraining Orders
Should the respondent consent to the Interim Order, or not respond within 21 days, the Interim Order becomes final and that is the end of the matter. If the respondent lodges an objection, the Court will set a date for the Mention Hearing, which must be attended by both parties. The Interim Order remains in force until the hearing is concluded.
The terms of the Interim Order, are set specifically to suit each individual situation, and clauses may include but not limited to the following:
- A specified period of time for which it is valid.
- Keeping a specified distance away from you, your children, or any other persons.
- Not being permitted to be near your home, or your place of employment.
- Not being allowed to make any contact or communicate in any way with you or any other persons.
Just as the applicant has the right to apply for a restraining order, the respondent also has the same rights to lodge an objection to the claims.
Objections must be submitted within 21 days from receiving the summons. Objection must provide evidence refuting the applicant’s claims that no violence, abuse or threats took place and there is no basis for any risk of any such acts happening in the future.
When the respondent objects to an interim order, the Court can arrange a Conference to attempt to resolve the matters without going through the final order hearing, but both parties will have to agree to participate. As certain Courts have different procedures, it’s highly advisable to seek legal assistance, either through Legal Aid, or a family lawyer.
After hearing both sides of the story, the Court will make the final decision as to whether to grant the final restraining order or not. If granted, it will include all the terms and period for which it is valid.
Both parties must be made aware that it the Court believes that either of their arguments were weak or frivolous, they may also be slapped with a costs order against them.
While having a restraining order granted against you may not affect your employment or constitute a criminal offence, breach of one certainly does and can also have serious consequences, including imprisonment.
Tips To Prepare For Your Restraining Order Hearing
Whenever attending any Court procedure, please be mindful of the following, especially if you’re representing yourself:
- Arrive at least half an hour before the trial starting time.
- Dress appropriately and conservative. No hats or sunglasses.
- Bow to the Magistrate when entering the courtroom.
- Stand up when asked to speak and address the Magistrate as “Your Honour”.
- Speak clearly and concisely.
Do you need to get a restraining order in Perth? Get in touch with our helpful team of VRO lawyers in Perth who can help you work out what kind of restraining order is most appropriate for your situation and help you apply for it via the Courts too.
Hickman Family Lawyers has an experienced and trusted team of family lawyers who have helped countless people with their restraining order applications and processes. Get in touch with us online now to find out how we can help you.