In Victoria, there are two types of intervention orders (IVOs):
- Family Violence Intervention Order; and
- Personal Safety Intervention Order.
If you have been served with one of these IVOs, the first thing to decide is whether you want to contest the order.
Contesting an Intervention Order
If you wish to contest the IVO, it is important to understand the legal process to do so:
a) First Court Hearing
The first thing to note is that you will not be able to contest the IVO at your first Court hearing in the Magistrates’ Court (known as the First Mention date). This means you will not be given the opportunity to present your version of the events before the magistrate on this initial Court date.
In Court, the person making the IVO application will be referred to as the ‘Applicant’, and you will be referred to as the ‘Respondent’.
If you choose to contest the IVO, your matter will be adjourned (postponed) to a later date. A date for a Final Contested Hearing will be set by the Court.
Our experience is that a Final Contested Hearing can be listed up to 12 months after the First Mention date. Prior to the Final Hearing, the Court will normally arrange several smaller appearances, called ‘Directions Hearings’.
b) Directions Hearing
During a Directions Hearing, the parties will check in with the magistrate regarding compliance with the conditions of the IVO. The parties will be given the opportunity to negotiate about any further terms of the IVO.
As a Respondent of the IVO, you are also able to request that the Applicant provide ‘further and better particulars’ relating to the IVO application. This requires the Applicant to prepare a document outlining the specific details of the incidents referred to in the IVO application.
This information will assist you contesting the IVO, as you will be allowed to provide your version of the specific events alleged by the Applicant. Furthermore, you will be able to prepare arguments against the making of the IVO, particularly the conditions set by the IVO.
If the Court has granted an interim IVO against you, this will continue to operate until the final hearing date.
c) Final Contested Hearing
If no agreement can be reached, the matter will continue to a Final Contested Hearing. The magistrate will only proceed with the Final Contested Hearing, provided that both parties have been given the opportunity to get legal advice.
At the Final Contested Hearing, you will need to organise any witnesses to support your version of the events. The most effective witness can provide first-hand evidence of something they have seen or heard, as opposed to something they have been told by someone else.
To successfully contest the IVO, you will need to convince the magistrate that the claims made against you are not true and that you are not a risk to the person needing protection in the IVO application.
What are my other options?
If you do not wish to contest the IVO, your alternatives are as follows:
- Attend Court and agree to the IVO. It is important to note that you will not receive a criminal record by agreeing to the IVO. However, if you breach the conditions of the IVO, it will become a criminal matter.
- Attend Court and consent to the IVO without admissions. This means that you agree to the IVO, but on the basis that you do not agree with the allegations made by the Applicant in their application.
- Attend Court and agree to an Undertaking instead of the IVO. An Undertaking is a formal written promise that you will follow specific rules and conditions.
- Not attend Court and ignore the Summons (we firmly advise against this option).
Before exercising any of these options, we strongly recommend you obtain legal advice. Our supportive, experienced family law team is here to help you navigate this process and determine the best options for you moving forward. Contact Charlie Robinson on 03 9435 9044 if you have any questions concerning this and to book an appointment.