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 the family violence laws” in this chapter).
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 the rest of this “Who can apply” section below). This doesn’t happen very often.
Can a child apply for a protection order?
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
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. (You can read about welfare guardians in the chapter “Decision making and powers of attorney”.)
Other people who need a representative to apply for them
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.