If you are being harassed by another person, a restraining order can help provide you with protection. A restraining order legally prevents that person from contacting you.The provisions of the Domestic Violence Act provide some of the most powerful remedies to persons who are exposed to the threat of, or have actually suffered, physical, mental and verbal abuse in the home.
The definition of harassment
Harassment has a legal definition. Under the Harassment Act 1997, it is defined by "specific acts" which have happened on at least two separate occasions within a period of 12 months.
These acts could include:
following a person
entering someone's property without their permission
harassment through phone calls or letters
giving offensive material
doing something that makes someone fear for his/her safety.
Who can apply
If you are in a "domestic relationship" with the person who is harassing you, you will have to apply for a protection order instead of a restraining order.
Legally, you are in a domestic relationship if:
you are the partner of the other person (including a same sex partner)
you are a family member of the person
you share a household with the other person (excluding a landlord/tenant or a employer/employee)
you have a close personal relationship with the person harassing you (this does not have to be sexual).
For more information about applying for a protection order, please go to the Family Court website.
If you want to apply for a restraining order and you are under 17 years old, you must have someone to represent you, unless you are married.
No application can be made against a person under 17 years old, unless they are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship.
If you are unable to act for yourself, you can ask someone to act for you. You may hire a lawyer to represent you if you wish.
The order will relate only to the person who is harassing you. If more than one person is involved, you can apply for protection from them as well.
You can also apply for other people to be protected, such as your children.
Applying for a restraining order
If you are being harassed or have been harassed by someone, you can apply to the District Court for a restraining order.
In the District Court, the person who applies for the order is called the applicant, and the person who the order is against is called the respondent.
To apply, you must file three documents:
Application for restraining order: This application form explains what you are asking the court to grant you. The Registrar will add the date of the hearing.
Affidavit in support: This affidavit explains why you think a restraining order should be granted. You should list the specified acts with dates and times (be as specific as possible). This should show at least two separate examples where harassment has occurred within a 12-month period. See the supporting affidavit for more information.
Notice of proceeding: This notice tells the respondent that an action has begun. The "notes for respondent" page should be kept with the notice of proceeding when it is served on the respondent.
You must file these documents in the court closest to where you or the respondent lives, or the closest court to the address for service of any of the applicants, or, with the written consent of all respondents, any other court.
The court can provide you with all the required forms. You will have to sign the documents in front of a Justice of the Peace or deputy registrar, who will witness them. You are encouraged to seek legal advice.
There is no filing fee for restraining orders.