There are two ways to look at a domestic violence order, or DVO: What it is and what it does. In terms of what it is, a domestic violence order is a sheet of paper that is delivered to an individual who is accused of committing domestic violence. A magistrates court is the legal entity that issues it after someone has filled out a domestic violence application. In terms of what it does, a domestic violence order specifies what an accused person must avoid doing while the domestic violence order is in effect. In no uncertain terms, it states that an individual must cut off all contact from the person who sought the domestic violence order for a specific period of time. It may not always be “all contact,” but rather certain types of interaction, like at the aggrieved person’s home, at their workplace or a location where both parties may frequent, such as a child’s school or daycare centre.
The length of time in which domestic violence orders are in place can be wide ranging, but the timeline is usually dependent on its type, meaning whether it’s a standard protection order or a temporary protection order. With the former, a protection order tends to be for longer, typically sunsetting after five years. Temporary protection orders, on the other hand, are for briefer periods, which could be several weeks or months. Again, the Magistrates Court is the legal entity that decides what timeline is appropriate for domestic violence matters.
In addition to what not to do, a protection order also discusses what you must do. Usually, those instructions refer to when you must appear in court. It’s during your appearance that you can consent to the protection order, ask that it be set aside so that you can obtain legal advice on the best course of action or disagree with the protection order entirely. If you believe the protection order is without merit, then a follow-up court date will be established by the magistrates court so you can lay out the reasons why.