Service of applications and orders
service the process of sending or giving court documents to a party after they have been filed, in accordance with the rules of court. Service ensures that all parties have received the documents filed with a court.
If you are the respondent to a Family Violence Order or Restraint Order application you will receive a copy of the application.
The application is normally given to (served on) you by a process server or police officer.
Within the copy of the application you will find a 'Notice to Respondent' giving the date and time of the formal hearing.
If the Magistrate has already made interim orders you will also be served with a copy of the interim orders.
What should I do now?
Read carefully through all the documents you have been given.
In the application
- Note the date and time for the formal hearing. This is in the 'Notice to Respondent' section of the application.
- Read the orders the applicant is seeking. There are more than ten common types of orders, and often more than one order is sought in an application.
- Read the reasons why the applicant is seeking the orders.
If you have been served with any interim orders you must read them carefully and obey the orders immediately.
Interim and final orders take effect immediately if you are in court when the orders are made.
If you were not in court the orders take effect when you are given (served with) a copy of the orders.
What happens in court?
There are several processes that a Family Violence Order or Restraint Order application may pass through at the courts.
When an application is urgent a hearing usually occurs on the same day the application is lodged with the court. You may not have been notified or seen the application before the urgent hearing and it will normally proceed without you being present.
The purpose of the urgent hearing is to consider making interim orders and set a time for a formal hearing.
First formal hearing
The purpose of a formal hearing is to give you the chance to say whether you consent to the orders sought or not.
- You will always be informed of the time and date for a formal hearing.
- If you contest the application, the Magistrate may list the matter for mediation before the final hearing.
mention listing a hearing in which parties can try to reach agreement on some matters before a full hearing is held
The purpose of this hearing is to clarify the issues, determine the number of witnesses and the approximate length of a final hearing.
- A mention listing will occur before a full hearing is held.
- The Magistrate may also provide information about possible outcomes if you proceed to a final hearing.
You may have your lawyer represent you at this hearing if you wish, and you can give evidence and call witnesses.
The Magistrate may dismiss or grant the application. If the application is granted, the Magistrate may make final orders and you may have to pay court costs.
If the application is dismissed no orders will be made and you may wish to apply to the magistrate for the recovery of your legal costs.
Your options in court
1. Consent to orders
consent to agree to or approve something
You can give your consent to the order (either interim or final) being made. If you give consent, the orders will be made and no further hearings will be necessary.
If you give consent it does not mean that you accept that everything in the application is true. You must state your denial of the allegation(s) to the Magistrate who will make a record of this on the file.
2. Not appear
You do not have to come to court for any hearing of the application.
If you don't appear, the matter may be heard in your absence and the Magistrate may make any orders he or she considers to be appropriate.
3. Contest the application
contest the application to say that you do not agree with or accept the application
You can contest a Family Violence Order or Restraint Order application.
If you do, you will need to put your case to the court at a final hearing. You may wish to talk to your lawyer first.
Even though you are contesting the application, Magistrates may make interim orders which usually remain in force until a determination is reached.
Breaches of Family Violence and Restraint Orders
A Family Violence Order or Restraint Order, whether interim or final, is a court order and it is a criminal offence to breach any of the terms of the orders. In the case of a breach, you can be arrested without a warrant or summoned to appear in court, and prosecuted.
Other matters of family law
Family law matters such as divorce are not heard in the Magistrates Court. They are dealt with by the specialist Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. You can find more information on our Family Law page.