Taking steps to protect yourself when you are feeling most vulnerable is difficult. We understand that.
If you are feeling unsafe or would like to discuss how to legally protect you and your children, we can help.
You can apply for a Protection Order if you have been the victim of physical, psychological, sexual, financial or other violence by someone close to you. A Protection Order can be applied for at any time and we can assist you throughout the application process.
Applying for a Protection Order
To apply for a Protection Order, you fill out a form and write an affidavit (a sworn statement explaining why you need a Protection Order) and give these to the Family Court. The other person is served with your application and will have the chance to defend it. The Family Court will listen to both sides and decide if a Protection Order should be issued.
If you need urgent protection, the Family Court can make a temporary Protection Order, usually within 24 hours, without getting the other person’s side of the story. The other person won’t be told that you’ve applied for a Protection Order until after the application has been considered.
Requirements to issue a Protection Order
When making a Protection Order, the Family Court must find that there has been family violence, whether physical, psychological, sexual, financial or other violence against you or your children or both.
The Family Violence Act 2018 expands the definition of family violence to include:
- Coercion or controlling behaviour
- Dowry-related abuse
- Mistreating a pet or other animal special to you or your family
- Harassment, such as loitering near your home or workplace
- One or more acts forming a pattern of behaviour, even if they seem minor or trivial
As well as finding that there has been family violence, the Court must be satisfied that a Protection Order is necessary to protect you or your children or both.
If the Family Court grants a Protection Order, a copy will be given to both you and the other person involved.
Effect of a Protection Order
If you are protected by a Protection Order, the other person must not do anything that amounts to family violence against you. A Protection Order may also restrict the other person from having any direct or indirect contact with you or your children.
If a Protection Order is granted, the other person will also be ordered to attend a non-violence programme provided by an approved organisation (unless the Family Court thinks there’s a good reason not to require this). The other person will also be restricted from possessing guns and other firearms.
A Protection Order automatically covers children living with you, including those born after the Protection Order is made. Your children are still covered after they turn 18 if they remain living with you. You can also ask for the Protection Order to apply for the benefit of other family members, including children not living with you.
The New Zealand Police take Protection Orders extremely seriously and are likely to charge people with an offence if they breach the conditions of the order. The maximum penalty for breaching Protection Order is 3 years’ imprisonment.
Please get in touch if you would like our help to protect yourself and your children.