You can apply to the court for a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) against someone if you need protection because of family violence, or the risk of family violence. The court can also make an FVRO to protect children from being exposed to family violence.
Can I apply for a FVRO?
To apply for a FVRO, you must be in a family relationship with the person who you are seeking to be protected from. This includes:
- Your ex-husband, wife or de facto partner
- Someone who you are related to
- If you are a child, someone who you ordinarily reside or resided with
- Someone who you have, or have had, an intimate personal relationship with or other personal relationship
What is family violence?
In order to understand whether you can apply for a FVRO, you must understand what family violence is. This term is defined as:
- violence, or threat of violence, by a person towards a family member; or
- any other behaviour that coerces or controls the family member, or causes them to be fearful
A Court will make a FVRO to protect a person (the “person protected”) or child if it is satisfied that:
- the person to be bound by the Order (the “Respondent”) has committed family violence and is likely to commit family violence against that person in the future; or
- the person has reasonable grounds to apprehend that the Respondent will commit family violence against them (s 10D).
Examples of family violence towards a family member include:
- assault or sexual assault
- stalking or cyber-stalking
- repeated derogatory remarks
- damaging or destroying property
- causing death or injury to a family animal
- unreasonably denying the person financial autonomy
- unreasonably withholding financial support
- preventing the person from making or keeping connections with family, friends or their culture
- kidnapping or depriving his or her liberty
- distribute an intimate image, or threatening to do so
How do you apply for an FVRO?
A person can apply for a FRVO if they are a person seeking to be protected from the violence of another person(s) and they are 16 years or older. It is also possible for a police to apply for a FVRO on behalf of another person, even if that person is under 16 years of age (Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) s24A(1)). If the person seeking to be protected is a child, a parent or guardian of the child can apply on the child’s behalf (s 24(2)).
In general, you will go to the Magistrate’s Court to apply for a FVRO. However, you need to go to the Children’s Court if the Respondent (ie. the person you are protecting yourself from) is a child (s 24(A)). Further, if you are less than 16 years old and applying for a FVRO against someone, you can choose to go to the Children’s Court or Magistrates Court (s 24(3)).
In Western Australia, we have one Children’s Court, located at 160 Pier St, Perth WA 6000. There are various Magistrates Courts. The main Magistrates Court is the Perth Magistrates Court located at 501 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000. The location of the remaining Magistrates Courts can be found on the Magistrates Courts website – https://www.magistratescourt.wa.gov.au/c/court_locations_contacts.aspx
Can my FVRO cover my children too?
A FVRO may be made for the benefit of a child or children if the Court is satisfied that the child has been exposed to family violence and is likely again to be exposed to such violence, or there are reasonable grounds to fear that the child or children will be exposed to family violence again (s 10E).
If you are a parent or legal guardian, you can complete a separate application form for the children.
If you are unsure what your options are, you can visit the Magistrates Court or get in contact with one of our lawyers to obtain advice.