Home | Browse Topics | Family law | Family violence and elder abuse | Applying for a Protection Order: Long-term protection against family violence

Family law

Applying for a Protection Order: Long-term protection against family violence


Who can apply for a family violence Protection Order?

If you are or have been in a family relationship with another person, you can apply to the Family Court for a Protection Order to protect yourself from the other person (see: “Types of relationships covered by family violence laws”).

In some cases, a person who qualifies to get a Protection Order may need to have another person represent them when they apply for the order (see below). This doesn’t happen very often.

Note: If you’re not a New Zealand citizen and Immigration New Zealand haven’t granted you residence status, you may be able to get a visa under some special visa categories for people who have experienced family violence (see: “Family violence, vulnerable migrants, and other special visa policies”).

Can a child apply for a Protection Order?

Family Violence Act 2018, ss 60, 62, 63

If you’re a child or teenager you can apply for a Protection Order, but you may need the help of an adult to act as your representative, depending on exactly how old you are:

  • If you’re under 16 you need an adult to apply as your representative on your behalf.
  • If you’re 16 or 17 you can choose either to apply through an adult representative or to make your own application.
  • If you’re 18 or older you make your own application.

If as a child you apply through a representative, you can still tell the judge what you think when you’re in the court. The judge has to take what you say into account.

People who lack mental capacity or can’t communicate with others

Family Violence Act 2018, s 67

A representative can apply for a family violence Protection Order on your behalf if you:

  • are unable, either completely or partly, to understand the nature of decisions about their personal care and welfare or to foresee the consequences of those decisions, or
  • are able to do those things but are unable to communicate your decisions.

In those cases, if you already have a “welfare guardian” appointed by the courts, that person can apply for you on your behalf. If you don’t have a welfare guardian, or if your welfare guardian has refused or failed to apply for a Protection Order for you, the Family Court can appoint a representative for you specially to apply for the order. For information about welfare guardians, see: “Decision making and powers of attorney”.

Other people who need a representative to apply for them

Family Violence Act 2018, s 69

The Family Court can also appoint someone else – a “representative” – to apply for a Protection Order on your behalf when you can’t apply personally yourself because you’re not physically able to do it, or because you’re scared of being harmed, or for some other reason.

The judge or court registrar will need to be sure that this will be in your best interests and that you don’t object to it. If you’ve said you don’t want this to happen, the judge or registrar will need to be sure that you weren’t under pressure to say this – for example, because the violent person was right there with you at the time so that you couldn’t speak freely.

Note: Even if a representative makes the application for you, the judge can still allow you to speak in court and say what you think.

Did this answer your question?

Family violence and elder abuse

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice on how legal aid works, whether you might be eligible for the service, and the next steps.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Age Concern

Age Concern provides a range of resources on aspects of life for older people including elder abuse.

Website: www.ageconcern.org.nz
Email: national.office@ageconcern.org.nz
Phone: 0800 65 2 105

Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) – Office for Seniors

The Elder Abuse Response Service is a free, confidential 24-hour helpline.

Website: www.officeforseniors.govt.nz/our-work/raising-awareness-of-elder-abuse/elder-abuse-response-service
Email: support@elderabuse.nz
Phone: 0800 32 668 65
Text: 5032

Women’s Refuge

Women’s Refuge provides 24-hour support, advocacy and accommodation for women and their children experiencing family violence throughout New Zealand.

Website: www.womensrefuge.org.nz
Crisis line (24/7): 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
Email: info@refuge.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/womensrefugenz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/womensrefugenz

Family Violence – It’s Not OK

“It’s not OK” is a community-driven behaviour change campaign to reduce family violence in New Zealand. Its goal is to change attitudes and behaviour that tolerate any kind of family violence. The website has resources for families who are experiencing abuse.

Website: www.areyouok.org.nz
Phone: 0800 456 450

Family Court

The Family Court website provides helpful information about family violence and the legal options available to keep families safe.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/family/family-violence

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on family violence and protection orders.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/family-violence

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top