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 paperwork asking for an FVRO, 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 may 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.
- where and how to apply for an FVRO
- what happens in court at the first hearing
- what happens when an interim order is made, and
- how long FVROs stay in force.
Three videos are available on the Magistrates Court of WA website that explain FVROs for applicants and respondents and also FVRO conferences.
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 except as indicated under the next heading.
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.
The process for applying is different depending on whether you apply in person at court, or online through an approved legal service provider. To apply in person, you need to complete the relevant form and can also provide a sworn or affirmed statement of evidence to be used in the hearing. If you apply online through an approved legal service provider, your application becomes your affidavit when you declare the information provided to be true to the approved legal service provider helping you lodge your application.
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 or online through an approved legal service provider, a police officer can help you to apply for an FVRO over the telephone.
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 a protection and care case in the Children's Court of WA; and
- During a Family Court case about children. However, in most cases, the Family Court will require you to go to the Magistrates Court to apply for an FVRO. If you have a current Family Court case and think you may need to apply for an FVRO, you should get legal advice.
Where can I find an approved legal service provider to help me lodge an online application?
These services and organisations are all approved legal service providers to help with online applications:
- Legal Aid WA
- Community Legal Centres
- Family Violence Prevention Legal Services
- Aboriginal Family Legal Services
What happens in court during the first hearing?
After you lodge your application form, you will get a date and time for a first 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 magistrate will read it and might ask you some extra questions. You might need to give evidence to the magistrate about your situation and what has happened. The magistrate will consider the evidence you have provided about your relationship with the respondent and the reasons why you want an FVRO to be made.
The magistrate can:
- make an interim FVRO
- dismiss your application, or
- adjourn your 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.
If the respondent objects, and you have both agreed to participate in an FVRO conference and if one is available at your court, the court will list your case for an FVRO conference.
If your case does not go to an FVRO conference, the court will list it for a final order hearing. 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 2 years, and up to 6 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.
For FVROs made other than during criminal proceedings, if the respondent is in prison at the time of service of the order, the time the order stays in force runs from when they are released from prison. For example, a 2 year FVRO would continue to be in place until 2 years after the respondent was released from prison. The order can be enforced while they are in prison.
- Court flowchart for interim FVROs
- Court flowchart for FVRO applications (adjourned/contested hearings)
- Infosheet - applicants in FVRO final hearings
- Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Family Violence Restraining Orders
- Children's Court of Western Australia - Family Violence Restraining Orders
Reviewed: 9 February 2023