Court procedure for VROs

Applying to a court for a Violence Restraining Order (VRO) against someone (called the respondent) 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 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 VRO, which is a temporary order put in place while the court considers making a final VRO. 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 VRO will continue to be in place until final orders are made.

 Find out:

  • where and how to apply for an VRO
  • what happens in court at the first hearing, and
  • how long VROs 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 VRO against a family member before 1 July 2017. 

Who can apply for a VRO?

If you are an adult, you can apply for a VRO to protect yourself from someone who is not a family member

An application for a VRO can also be made by:

  • a police officer, to protect an adult or a child
  • a parent, guardian or child welfare officer, to protect a child, or
  • 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 VRO (for example, to protect a couple from a violent neighbour), but the court will need to decide if it should make a VRO to protect each person.

Where can I apply for a VRO?

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

  • If you want a VRO 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 a VRO against an adult in the Magistrates Court, you can ask the court to extend the VRO 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 statement of evidence to be used in the hearing. The court does not charge court fees for VRO 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 VRO, or it is not practical to apply in person at the court, a police officer can help you to apply for an order 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 how you know the respondent and the reasons why you want a VRO to be made.

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

For VROs in the Perth Children's Court involving children who attend the same school, the case may be referred to a mediation conference. You can find more information and videos about VROs in the Children's Court.

What happens if an interim VRO is made?

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

Once served, the respondent has 21 days to object to a final VRO 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 VRO. 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 VRO should be made. Objecting to an interim VRO does not mean the order is cancelled.

How long does a VRO last?

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

A final VRO 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.

How else can a court can make a VRO?

VROs 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.

 

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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.