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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 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?

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. 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

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

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Age Concern

www.ageconcern.org.nz

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

Phone: (04) 801 9338 or 0800 65 2 105
Email: national.office@ageconcern.org.nz

Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS)

Helpline: 0800 32 668 65

With this confidential 24-hour, free-phone helpline, registered nurses will listen and provide information and support about elder abuse – whether the caller is calling on their own behalf or is concerned about a friend or family member. Callers will then be referred to local elder abuse services to get the help they need.

Family Court

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

This Family Court webpage provides pamphlets and other information giving an overview of how family violence is dealt with in the courts and how Protection Orders can help keep people safe from family violence. The website also provides information on responding to a Protection Order application.

You can access the pamphlets online, or you can order hard copies by contacting the Family Court on:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz

Family Court family violence forms

These forms, and a guide for how to complete a Protection Order application, are available at www.justice.govt.nz/family/family-violence/protection-order-forms

Family Court fee waiver forms

These forms are available here:

www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Forms/application-for-waiver-individ-prev-waiver.pdf

Independent Police Conduct Authority

www.ipca.govt.nz

Postal Address: PO Box 5025, Wellington 6145

Phone: (04) 499 2050
Phone: 0800 503 728

Email: info@ipca.govt.nz

The IPCA receives and investigates complaints against the police. A complaint form is available online.

“Family violence” (Law Society pamphlet)

Available at: www.lawsociety.org.nz/about-us/about-our-publications/law-awareness-brochures

Access pamphlets online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Women’s Refuge

www.womensrefuge.org.nz

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

Crisis Line

Phone: 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

Women’s Refuge provides a free phone line for people anywhere in New Zealand. Get information, advice and support about family violence as well as help in a crisis.

Fact sheets

A range of resources and fact sheets are available online.

Phone: (04) 802 5078
Email: info@refuge.org.nz

Family Violence – It’s Not OK

www.areyouok.org.nz

Phone: 0800 456 450

“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. It’s not OK is an initiative housed within the Ministry of Social Development.

Family violence and disabled people

www.areyouok.org.nz/resources/free-resources/domestic-violence-and-disabled-people-accessible-formats

Family violence and migrant families

www.areyouok.org.nz/resources/free-resources/culture-no-excuse-for-abuse-english

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