Protection orders 101
In this blog, our social workers share some insight around Protection Orders. You should always seek legal advice from a Lawyer. If you are unsafe, call 111.
A protection order is a legal document, that is applied for through the New Zealand Family Court, that can help to legally protect you against violence from someone you have or used to have a close personal relationship with. Protection orders will usually be granted or declined the same day they are submitted to the Family Court.
There are many legal terms that are mentioned in the protection order, which can be confusing. Below is a glossary of common words used so that you can better understand your order.
Applicant: The person that applied for the protection order.
Protected people: Other people listed under the protection order that are protected against the respondent. This can include children and other family members.
Respondent: The person that the order is against- the person you need to be protected from.
Temporary protection order: When a successful? protection order is applied for through family court, it is granted as a temporary protection order. This gives the respondent three months to contest the order which will result in a family court hearing where a judge will make the final decision on whether it stays in place or is revoked. If the respondent does not contest the protection order after three months, then it automatically becomes final.
On notice: When a protection order is applied for, there are two kinds of application- on notice and urgent. If a protection order is applied for on notice then it, means that the judge would like both the applicant and respondent to present their cases before he makes a decision about granting the order. The respond will receive notification of the application by……. and be invited to respond to it. If the respondent does not show to the scheduled court hearing to present their case, then a final protection order will be granted by the judge.
Urgent/without notice protection order: An urgent protection order is applied for when there is an immediate need for safety. The judge will grant this without notice meaning that the protection order is in place before hearing from the respondent. The respondent will still be given the opportunity to contest the protection order if they wish to, however it will be active from application.
Final protection order: A final protection order will stay in place permanently, or until the applicant applies to the court to have it removed.
A protection order can have standard conditions such as non-contact and non-violent; however, it can be modified to suit individual circumstances. All protection orders have a non-violent condition, which means the respondent cannot physically, psychologically or sexually abuse the applicant, their children and any other people listed under the order as protected people.
The second condition that can be common is non-contact. The respondent cannot come near the applicant’s home, property, neighbourhood or work. The respondent is not allowed to make contact in anyway with the applicant unless it is previously arranged with lawyers (regarding children etc.), it is an emergency (such as a medical event or natural disaster) or unless both parties are asked to attend a family group conference run by Oranga Tamariki. Is there any benefit in listing types of contact, ie this includes via social media, attempting to contact through friends and family, by mail …
There are a couple more conditions of a protection order that help to keep the applicant safe, and these include the respondent handing over any firearms in their possession within 24 hours of being served the protection order and their firearms license will be suspended. If an order is made final by a judge, then their firearms license will be revoked. The last condition that can be enforced under the protection order is that the respondent is required to attend a court appointed non-violence program to address their violent behaviour.
There are three ways that you can obtain a protection order.
- Apply for the order yourself through the Family Court by filling in the paperwork. Please visit the Ministry of Justice website to obtain this paperwork. We strongly advise that you get legal advice to ensure that it is the right order to apply for and that you are disclosing the right information.
- A family lawyer can make the application for you. There is an option to get Legal Aid support if you met the income-tested threshold.
- If you are the victim of domestic violence and the offender is found guilty, upon sentencing, the judge can put in place a protection order if you have signed a 123b form through police.