A protection order is an order made by the Family Court (or in same instances by a criminal court) and which, as the name suggests, is designed to provide protection. The person seeking to be protected by a Protection Order is called the applicant and the person against whom protection is sought is called the respondent. The Order specifies that the respondent is not to be violent towards the applicant and may include standard and special conditions (for example, that the respondent is not to make contact with the applicant or go to the applicant’s place of work).
A Protection Order automatically covers the applicant and any children living with the applicant. The Court can also extend it to include other people such as relatives, flatmates or new partners.
In urgent circumstances it is possible for the Court to make a temporary Protection Order without giving advance notice to the respondent. It is possible in those cases for the Order to be made on the day the application for a Protection Order is filed and without the need for the applicant to go to Court. A temporary Protection Order lasts for three months but will automatically become permanent if the respondent does not notify the Court that they wish to object to it.
In less urgent circumstances the application will be provided to the respondent before the Court considers making the Protection Order and the respondent will then be able to elect to defend the application. A date will be set by the Court for a hearing and, after considering all of the evidence presented by the applicant (and by the respondent if they are opposing the application) the Court may then make a Protection Order.
If, after a Protection Order (whether temporary or permanent) is made by the Court, the respondent does not obey it (called a breach), they can be charged with a criminal offence. The respondent may then need to appear in a criminal court and, if convicted they may get a criminal record and could be sentenced for up to three years jail.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We are able to provide guidance and advice about protection orders including information about how to make an application for a protection order or what you can do if you are a respondent to a protection order.
In urgent circumstances, and subject to our available resources, we can assist you to make your own “without notice” application to the Family Court for a Protection Order. We can also refer you to lawyers who can act on your behalf in making or defending an application for a Protection Order.
For further information about Protection Orders, to be referred to a lawyer or to find out whether we can help you obtain a Protection Order, please contact our Agency Manager on 372 9220.