Court procedure for FVROs

Applying to a court for a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) may be a new experience for you.

The court will usually hear your application as soon as possible. When you fill in the application form at the court, you have the option of having the first hearing without the person you want the order against (the respondent) being told about the application.

The first hearing happens in a 'closed court', which means members of the public are not allowed in the court room. The court can allow an approved support person to come in with you during the hearing.

At the first hearing, court can make an interim FVRO, which is a temporary order put in place while the court considers making a final FVRO. The court won't make a final order until after the respondent has been told about the application and has the chance to come to court. The interim FVRO will continue to be in place until final orders are made.

 Find out:

  • where and how to apply for an FVRO
  • what happens in court at the first hearing, and
  • how long FVROs stay in force.
On 1 July 2017, the laws about restraining orders changed. You should get legal advice if you applied for or were granted a Violence Restraining Order (VRO) against a family member before 1 July 2017. 

Who can apply for an FVRO?

If you are 16 years or older, you can apply for an FVRO against another family member.

Applications for FVROs can also be made by:

  • a police officer, to protect an adult or a child
  • a parent, guardian or child protection officer, to protect a child
  • a person’s guardian appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA).

You can apply to protect more than one person under a single FVRO (for example, an application to protect you and your children), but the court will need to decide if it should make an FVRO protecting each person.

Where can I apply for an FVRO?

It depends on the ages of the person who will be protected by the FVRO, and the person the application is against.

  • If you want an FVRO against someone under 18 years old, you must apply in the Children’s Court.

  • If the application is to protect someone under 18 years old and is against someone older than 18 years old, you can apply in the Children’s Court or the Magistrates Court.

  • Otherwise, you must apply in the Magistrates Court.

If you are applying for an FVRO against an adult in the Magistrates Court, you can ask the court to extend the FVRO to protect children under 18 years old using the same application.

To apply, you need to complete the relevant form and can also provide a sworn or affirmed statement of evidence to be used in the hearing. The court does not charge court fees for FVRO applications. You cannot be ordered to pay the respondent's legal costs unless your application was made without any good reason or to harass or inconvenience the respondent.

If you urgently need an FVRO, or it is not practical to apply in person at the court, a police officer can help you to apply for an FVRO over the telephone.

    What happens in court during the first hearing?

    After you file your application form at the court, it will give you a date and time to come back for a hearing. This might even be on the same day. The courtroom will be closed to the public and the respondent will not be there. 

    If you made an affidavit, the court will read it and might ask you some extra questions. You might need to give evidence in court about your situation and what has happened. The court will consider the evidence you have provided about your relationship with the respondent and the reasons why you want a FVRO to be made.

    The court can make an interim FVRO, dismiss your application, or adjourn the case to another hearing so the respondent can come to court.

    What happens if an interim FVRO is made?

    The police will serve the interim FVRO on the respondent. Once it is served on the respondent, the interim FVRO can be enforced by the police and the court.

    Once served, the respondent has 21 days to object to a final FVRO being made. They can ask the court for a copy of your affidavit and a transcript or record of what was said at the first hearing.

    If the respondent does not object to the interim order within 21 days, it automatically becomes a final FVRO. If the respondent sends in a notice of objection to the court, the interim order will remain in place. You and the respondent will need to come back to court for a hearing so the court can decide if a final FVRO should be made. Objecting to an interim FVRO does not mean the order is cancelled.

    How long does an FVRO last?

    An interim FVRO stays in force until it becomes a final FVRO, or is cancelled or dismissed by the court.

    A final FVRO against an adult usually lasts for two years, and up to six months against a child or young person. You can ask for an order against an adult to be longer if you prove it is necessary. Final orders can run for different times if they are varied or cancelled by the court.

    If the respondent is in prison when the order is made, the order can be enforced while they are in prison, but the duration of the order only starts to run when they are released from prison. For example, a two year FVRO would continue to be in place until two years after the respondent was released from prison.

    How else can a court can make an FVRO?

    FVROs can be made during other cases and in other courts. This includes:

    • in bail applications and court cases about criminal charges
    • when sentencing people for violent or sex offences
    • during parenting cases in the Family Court of WA
    • during protection and care cases in the Children's Court of WA.

     

    Resources

    More information

     

    Reviewed: 6 April 2018

    Applying for an FVRO?

    If you decide applying for an FVRO is the best way to help keep safe from family violence, our Interim FVRO guide can take you through the application process.

    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.