In July this year a new type of restraining order called a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) was created.
Overall the new FVROs seem easier for applicants to get and harder for respondents to successfully object to. The definition of “family violence” now includes controlling behaviours such as cyber-stalking, denying financial support or autonomy and isolating people from their family and friends. Where a Court is satisfied that any family violence has occurred a FVRO must be granted.
Due to a backlog in all Courts it is taking anything between six to twelve months for a respondent to have an opportunity to put their side of the story and argue for the FVRO to be cancelled.
This wait time is excruciating for many, especially where the FVRO causes difficulty in employment, evicts them from the family home or impacts how, when or even whether they may see their children. Many of our clients in the Great Southern Region are farmers and where they are bound by a FVRO they also lose their firearms license and the ability to shoot livestock and vermin.
The new legislation contains a solution to all of these problems. A respondent can consent (without admitting any family violence did occur) to what is known as a “Conduct Agreement” in place of an existing FVRO. This kind of agreement can be on any terms the Court feels comfortable with. Importantly, a Conduct Agreement is specifically not a FVRO, however it is an order of the Court and any breach will constitute a criminal offence in exactly the same way as breaching a FVRO does.
This compromise is often more attractive for respondents than waiting for a trial many months down the road, at great expense and stress to all involved and with no certain outcome. A Conduct Agreement does not have to be declared to any authority and with legal advice can be carefully drafted in a way that may reinstate the respondent’s access to their firearms, children and home while also ensuring there is an adequate deterrent to any form of family violence.
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact HHG Legal Group on 9841 2322.
Written by HHG Associate Nicole Young.
Published in the Albany Advertiser on 26 October 2017.