A domestic violence order is designed to protect family violence victims from abuse committed against them by another person. However, circumstances can change, and a Protection Order lodged to the court at one point may not be suitable going forward. Both the protected person and respondent can apply to change the terms of a domestic violence order if the magistrates court find appropriate reasons to do so. Queenslanders have lodged nearly 3,500 applications to vary Protection Orders in 2018, according to Queensland Courts' domestic violence figures.
But how do you begin the legal process?
What is a domestic violence order?
A domestic violence order is imposed by the court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence against a person, either in the short-term or permanently.
This Protection Order can stop someone:
- Approaching a victim of family violence at their home, workplace or other known personal space, such as a child's school. This can be extended to a restraining order, preventing an individual from approaching the aggrieved at all, or include their friends, family and coworkers.
- Living with a domestic partner, family member or dependent. Government support can help to cover expenses arising from this, such as help with rental payments or care services.
- Making contact with a domestic abuse victim or their loved ones via phone, mail or online communications.
A domestic violence Protection Order is filed through the magistrates court for approval, but can come from a number of different parties, including:
- The abuse victim themselves.
- Another applicant, such as a friend, family member or community worker.
- A Queensland police officer or criminal law solicitor.
These Protection Orders are made, with the help of a family law solicitor, to specify terms of conduct within a defined time period. However, if these rules don't suit going forward, or the respondent disputes them, orders can be varied on request to the court.
When would Protection Orders change?
Domestic violence orders are not necessarily permanent – the Queensland Courts shows more than 30 per cent of all orders made in 2018 were temporary. This is often to protect the aggrieved while police officers investigate, but can also allow time for all individuals involved to settle the issue outside of court. While these temporary orders are usually more binding, changes can still be made if:
- The aggrieved decides to remove their domestic violence order application.
- Dependents, such as children or those under care, have an immediate and irreplaceable need for the respondent's presence.
- The applicant is found to have lied to the police and courts about any offence occurring.
The circumstances which led to a Protection Order being made can often change as time goes on too. The aggrieved can make amendments to their permanent domestic violence order if:
- They decide their abuser is fit to return to their personal life following a period of family violence counselling or rehabilitation.
- The respondent leaves the country permanently or becomes terminally ill or injured.
- They decide the interior protection terms are no longer practical, especially where children and other dependents are concerned.
Changing domestic violence orders for the right reasons
It's relatively easy to make amendments to Protection Order terms. No matter who filed the initial application, either the aggrieved or the domestic violence order respondent can apply to have the document altered. Changes can include:
- Altering or replacing legal conditions such as a restraining order.
- Adding or removing named people, including children, relatives and friends.
- Changing the length of time that the Protection Order is in force.
No matter the changes you wish to make, it's important that you talk the decision through. A choice made subjectively in the spur of the moment can have far reaching consequences for everyone involved in a domestic violence dispute, especially children. Additionally, the court can still reject any proposed changes if it doesn't find substantial reasoning to amend the Protection Order. That's why any course of actions should be taken with the considered advice of family law experts.
Legal help for Protection Order changes
Domestic violence victims don't have to suffer in silence – the Queensland Courts have made over 11,500 Protection Orders statewide in 2018, according to their statistics database. This shows individuals always have recourse to help in times of need.
However, we understand that times can change. Whether you're a domestic violence order applicant who wants to amend your Protection Order or a respondent seeking a more favourable set of terms, an expert solicitor can help. Russo Lawyers' legal team has decades of experience in Queensland family law. We value the input of each of our clients, so we work with you to decide on Protection Order terms that suit your and then fight your corner every step of the way. For more details, contact Russo Lawyers today.