Responding to restraining order applications

In most restraining order applications involving family violence or personal violence, the person seeking protection can choose to apply for a restraining order without having to tell the respondent. The court can make an interim Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) or interim Violence Restraining Order (VRO) against the respondent, without them being at court.

If the court makes a restraining order against you, the first time you might find out about the application is when you are served with an interim restraining order. The restraining order is then in force and you have an opportunity to oppose the order becoming a final order. 

You should read the order carefully, and get legal advice if you are not sure what it means. If you do not follow what the order says, you may be committing an offence. 

In applications for Misconduct Restraining Orders (MRO), the respondent will be sent a summons to attend a court hearing before any orders are made.

Find out:

  • your options if you are served with an interim FVRO or interim VRO
  • what to do if you have a summons to attend a restraining order hearing, and
  • what things can appear on your criminal record.

What can I do if I’m served with an interim FVRO or interim VRO?

If you have received an interim FVRO or VRO, your options include:

1. Agree to the FVRO/VRO being made final

You can fill in the 'Consent' section on the back of the notice you received and return it to the court within 21 days. You do not need to go to court; the FVRO or VRO will be made final as soon as the court receives your consent notice.

Before agreeing to the order being made final, you should check what you are not allowed to do. You may want to negotiate different terms for a final order.

2. Object to the FVRO/VRO being made final

You can fill in the 'Objection' section on the back of the notice and return it to the court within 21 days. 

The court will set a date for you and the person protected by the order to come to court, normally for a mention hearing. At a mention hearing, the court will work out if a final order hearing is needed and check how many witnesses might be involved. Your witnesses only need to come to a final order hearing.

The interim restraining order remains in force, even if you object to it.

3. Doing nothing

If you do not return a notice of objection to the court within 21 days after you were served, the interim order will automatically become a final order against you.

What if I have received a summons to go to court for a restraining order?

A summons for an MRO, VRO or FVRO hearing usually means no interim order has been made. The court has given you the chance to have your say about whether or not an order should be made. Your options include:

1. Agree that the restraining order should be made

You can go to the hearing and agree to be bound by the terms of a restraining order. This does not mean you admit you did anything wrong or what the applicant says you did.

2. Object to the restraining order being made

You can go to the hearing and tell the court you object to a final order being made. The court will then organise a final order hearing. You may be willing to give an undertaking to the court as a way to settle the application.

3. Doing nothing

If you do not attend the hearing, the application will be decided in your absence. The applicant will tell the court what happened and why they want the order. The court will decide if a final order is needed.

If an order is made in your absence, it will be served on you by the police.

Are there other ways of responding to a restraining order application?

Sometimes an applicant may be willing to stop their application (and have any interim restraining orders cancelled) if you give an undertaking to the court that you won't do certain things.

Alternatively, at any stage of proceedings, you can agree to be bound by the terms of a final order. This is done on a 'without admissions' basis: you agree the court can make a final order against you, without having to agree that there is any reason or need for it (or admit that you did any of the things the applicant says).

If someone has a restraining order against me, does it appear on my criminal record?

No, but it will be recorded by the court and on the police system. In some court cases, a court might be allowed to know that someone has (or had) a restraining order against you. For example, this can come up in bail applications and in family court proceedings.

If you are convicted of breaching a restraining order, the conviction will normally appear on your criminal record.

 

Resources

Court flowcharts
Infosheets

 

Reviewed: 6 April 2018

 

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.