Conduct agreement orders
Is a CAO the same as an FVRO?
A CAO is the name given to the order made when a respondent agrees to an FVRO on a without admission basis. It is taken to be an FVRO for the purposes of the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA).
After filing an objection, if the respondent agrees to an order being made, the usual practice is for the respondent to agree to a CAO.
What conditions can be included in a conduct agreement order?
A CAO can include all the same conditions as in an FVRO.
As well as restraining the respondent from doing certain acts (for example, going within 50 metres of the applicant) they can include exceptions.
Some common exceptions include:
- being permitted to attend mediation, and
- being allowed to contact each other to make arrangement for children.
If an applicant and respondent disagree about how long the order should be in place or the conditions of the CAO, there will need to be a trial (sometimes called a final order hearing) for the court to decide.
What are the benefits of a CAO?
The benefits of a CAO include:
- avoiding the need to have a trial (children and other witnesses will not have to go to court to give evidence)
- the respondent not having a finding of family violence made by the court, and
- the respondent avoiding the risk of paying the applicant’s legal costs, which can be substantial.
What is the difference between ‘without admission’ and a ‘finding of family violence’?
A respondent can agree to a CAO being made on a without admission basis. This means that the respondent agrees to the order being made but does not agree with the allegations of family violence that have been made against them.
If a case goes to trial the court will look carefully at the evidence and decide whether to make an FVRO. If the court makes a 'finding of family violence', this means a court has decided that there has been family violence.
If a respondent agrees to a CAO there is no finding of family violence by a court.
Is a CAO a criminal charge?
A CAO is not a criminal charge and does not go on the respondent’s criminal record.
When does a CAO come into force?
The CAO will be in force immediately if the respondent is in court when it is made. Otherwise, it will come into force when it is served on the respondent.
Is a breach of a CAO a criminal offence?
Yes, it is a criminal offence to breach a CAO. If a person breaches a CAO they may be arrested and charged with the offence of breaching an FVRO. The penalty for breaching a CAO is a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years. A breach of a CAO will go on the person’s criminal record.
How can I get help with a CAO?
Duty lawyers can give advice and assistance about restraining orders including a CAO at some courts.
When can I get a CAO?
It can be made at any stage during the case under the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) about an FVRO.
If the applicant has a lawyer, you can contact them before the next court date to discuss the conditions of the CAO.
A CAO can be agreed to at an FVRO conference.
Reviewed: 22 September 2023