Domestic violence remedies are normally sought in the District Court. The most common orders sought are:
- Barring Order
- Safety Order
- Protection Order
Essentially a Barring Order is an Order prohibiting a person from residing in the home where the other person resides. To obtain a Barring Order the person seeking such an Order must establish to the satisfaction of the Court that such an Order is necessary for his or her safety or welfare or is necessary for the safety or welfare of the dependent child or children. Generally speaking the Court would require evidence of serious and recent incidents of violence or threats of serious incidents. A Barring Order made by the District Court can be for a period up to three years.
A very important feature of a Barring Order is that breach of it amounts to a criminal offence. Consequently if it is breached the person in breach of the Order can be arrested, charged and convicted. On conviction the person can be fined and/or imprisoned.
An Application for a Barring Order can be made very simply by the Applicant calling to the District Court Office and arranging to issue a Summons.
A Safety Order essentially is an Order directing the other party not to use or threaten to use violence against, molest or put in fear the Applicant. A Safety Order can be made by the Court if the Court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the safety or welfare of the Applicant or any dependent child so requires.
Again a Safety Order can be applied for by the Applicant attending at the District Court Office and arranging to issue the appropriate Summons. Breach of a Safety Order also amounts to a criminal offence.
A Protection Order is essentially the same as a Safety Order however it is an interim Order which is made at the time of issuing the Barring Summons and it remains in existence until the Hearing of the Application for the Barring Order.
The relevant legislation is the Domestic Violence Act 1996.
Section 3(4)(a) of the Domestic Violence Act 1996 contains an important provision which in effect stipulates that if the Applicant is not a spouse or the civil partner of the other party a Barring Order cannot be granted if the Applicant’s interest (ownership) of the relevant property is less than that of the other party. (This restriction does not apply to spouses or to civil partners).