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.
A video to assist Respondents to FVRO applications is available to view on the Magistrates Court website.
- 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. You need to return the objection to the court where the order was made.
If both you and the applicant have opted to participate in an FVRO conference and one is available, the court will set a date for a conference. For more information about conferences click here.
Otherwise your case will go to a final order hearing. The court will set a date for you and the protected person to come to court. The next court date could be either a mention or directions hearing or a final order hearing (trial). if you are unsure whether it is a mention hearing or a final order hearing you should call the court to find out.
The court will set a date for you and the protected person to come to court. The court date could be either a mention or directions hearing or a final order hearing (trial). If you are unsure whether it is mention or a directions hearing or a final order hearing you should call the court to find out.
The interim FVRO or VRO 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 a VRO or an FVRO hearing usually means no interim order has been made. With an MRO you receive a summons as the first step. 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. With an FVRO you can also agree to a Conduct Agreement Order as a way 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, for a VRO or an MRO 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). You can do something similar with a Conduct Agreement Order to settle an FVRO application.
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.
- Court flowchart for FVRO applications
- Court flowchart for VRO applications
- Court flowchart for MRO applications
- Responding to restraining order applications
- Preparing for a final order hearing
- Information for respondents in final order hearings
- Conduct Agreement Orders
Reviewed: 1 May 2020