I have been served with an Intervention Order, what do I do next?

An Intervention Order is an order made by the Magistrates Court.

Step 1.

We would suggest that you obtain urgent legal advice regarding the Order as soon as possible after you have been served.

Step 2.

Make sure that you carefully read the terms of the Intervention Order.  The order will explain what you can and what you can’t do.

Step 3

Be aware that:

  1. You must take the Order very seriously.
  2. You need to comply with the terms of the Order. For example:
    • if the order says “that you cannot be within 200 metres” of your former partner/a person, then you must abide by this condition.
    • If it says that you are not to communicate with your former partner/a person then you cannot communicate in any way i.e. by direct conversation, telephone, email, SMS or any other method of communication.
  3. The order also means that you can’t use a third party to do anything that may be prohibited by the order. For example, you can’t have your friend contact the person who has taken out the order.
  4. Often if children have witnessed the alleged family violence, they can also be included on the Order. This means that you have the same restrictions for the children. i.e. you can’t be within 200 metres of them, or where they attend school. 
    • (Sometimes the Order may provide for you to continue to spend time with the children, but that you do not commit family violence. This is usually if there is an existing Family Court Order regarding time with the children, or if a written agreement between yourself and the person who applied for the Order is made for you to spend time with the children).
  5. There are harsh penalties for breaking an Intervention Order, including imprisonment. Some years ago, a client of mine telephoned the person who was protected by the order, which was a breach of the order. He was jailed for a short period of time.
  6. Breaking an Intervention Order is a criminal offence, which may lead to a criminal record.

Step 4.

  1. The Order served upon you would usually be an Interim Order, which is effectively a temporary Order, i.e. it’s not a final Order. An Interim Order will usually last for around three weeks before the parties, being the person who applied for the order and you, need to return to the court for what is referred to as a “Mention”.
  2. A Mention is a hearing before a magistrate to discuss an application and to make arrangements about the progress of your case. The Mention is generally a short hearing of about 5 minutes and witnesses are not usually called to give evidence at this stage of the case.
  3. It may be possible to resolve issues between you and the person who applied for the order at the Mention. It would be advisable for you to attend at Court with a lawyer. If you fail to attend at the Mention, a final Order may be made in your absence. A final order would usually be for around 12 months.

Step 5.

  1. If agreement can’t be reached at the Mention, the matter will likely be adjourned to a Directions Hearing. Please note that if an Interim Order has been granted, that order and the terms of that order will remain in place between the mention and the Directions Hearing – which can be months.
    • A Directions Hearing is like a Mention and is used to prepare for a Contested Hearing. A magistrate clarifies the issues in the case and makes directions about the management of the Contested Hearing. A Directions Hearing is a further opportunity for the parties to reach an agreement before the Contested Hearing.
  2.  The Contested Hearing is a final hearing when a Magistrate will hear evidence (with witnesses in the witness box), consider submissions about the law and decide if an Order should be made and what conditions should be included.
  3.  Between the Directions Hearing and the Contested Hearing the original Order will usually remain in place. There could be several months between the Directions Hearing and the Contested Hearing.

From Mention to Contested Hearing can sometimes take up to 12 months.

Step 6.

  1. There are various ways in which the parties can agree to resolve the matter before a Contested Hearing (or any stage of the Court process) these may involve:
    • The person who applied for the Order can withdraw their Application.
    • The matter could resolve by way of an Undertaking instead of a court order. An undertaking is a promise that you make to the Court to be of good behaviour, but it is not a Court Order. The Undertaking would be instead of the Court Order and would require the consent of the person who applied for the Order.
    • If you have no intention of interacting with the person who has applied for the order, you can consent to the order “without admissions”. This means you consent to an order for a period where you agree not to approach or communicate with the other party, but you do not admit that you have committed family violence against that person. This is noted on the Order as “the Respondent consented to the Order being made without admitting the allegations raised against them.” However, the fact that the order has been made can be used against you by the other party in family law proceedings.

This is general information only. Please contact us for expert legal advice that takes your unique personal situation into account prior to making any decisions based on this article.