Intervention Order
Family & Relationship Law 21 March 2023

How does an Intervention Order impact my family law matter?

In Victoria, a Family Violence Intervention Order (“IVO”) is a civil order that can limit someone’s contact, communication or behaviour towards another person. For example, it can limit a parent’s behaviour towards their former spouse/partner and any children of the household. It can also apply to current spouses/partners. The Americans call it a “Restraining Order”.

Whether or not an IVO is granted will depend on a variety of circumstances. It is important to know that if there is an IVO in place either on your behalf, on behalf of any children, or against you, this does not stop a parent from negotiating parenting or property arrangements. This article looks at how an IVO is obtained and its impact on a family law matter.

If you are in danger and require immediate assistance, you should call triple zero (000).

What does an IVO do?

An IVO is usually an order by a Magistrate in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (“the Magistrates’ Court”) that stops someone (called the Respondent) from doing something in relation to another person (called the Affected Family Member). An IVO can be short term (called an Interim IVO) until the Magistrates’ Court decides that a longer order is necessary for the protection of the Affected Family Member (called a Final IVO).

An IVO can include conditions such as:

  1. The Respondent cannot communicate or contact the Affected Family Member in any way.
  2. The Respondent cannot come near the Affected Family Member’s home, school or place of work.
  3. The Respondent cannot come near the Affected Family Member.
  4. The Respondent must not commit family violence towards the Affected Family Member.

There are also exemptions to the above that can be included in an IVO. For example, a Respondent can contact an Affected Family Member through a lawyer or a mediator or relationship counsellor. The Respondent can communicate in writing with the Affected Family Member if negotiating child arrangements – provided they do not commit family violence while doing so.

What is family violence?

The definition of family violence is very broad and includes:

  1. Physical and sexual violence;
  2. Property damage;
  3. Economic abuse (such as controlling someone’s access to money against their will);
  4. Emotional, social or psychological abuse (such as making someone fear for their safety);
  5. Threats (such as to take children away or to have them taken by others); or
  6. Coercing, controlling, dominating or terrorising behaviours (such as intimidating, bullying or frightening someone).

How do you apply for an IVO?

In some cases, Victoria Police can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an IVO on your behalf. They will do this if they attend your home due to a family violence incident or if you report an incident to them. Victoria Police can also issue a short-term Family Violence Safety Notice that lasts until they can get the matter before a Magistrate to decide whether to grant an Interim IVO. A Family Violence Safety Notice has similar conditions that can be on an IVO.

Alternatively, you can apply for a IVO at your local Magistrates’ Court if you have concerns for your safety or the safety of your children. A Court application is not an order. If you need protection straight away, you can apply for an Interim IVO that starts straight away for a short period of time.

A Magistrate will review the Application after considering the family violence allegations made and the level of risk to the Applicant and the Affected Family Members.

You can contact one of our Family & Relationship Law specialists to discuss your concerns and Intervention Order matter.

What happens if I am served with an IVO?

An IVO is not a criminal matter (even if it is served by Victoria Police).  However, breaching an IVO may result in criminal charges and prosecution from Victoria Police. More information about this can be found in the article called “I have been served with an Intervention Order, what do I do?

How does an IVO impact my parenting matter?

The answer to this will depend on the conditions listed on the IVO (what a person can or cannot do and what exemptions are there) and if there is any written agreement about the care arrangements for any children (a Parenting Plan or Parenting Order).

An IVO may impact your parenting matter if the conditions prevent you from spending time and communicating with your children or from communicating with your former partner about care arrangements. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek legal on how to navigate your matter and start negotiating parenting arrangements through lawyers if necessary.

The impact on your case is assessed on a case-by-case basis as no two-family situations are the same.

Whilst the general rule is that Parenting Orders in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia “trump” an IVO at the state level, this is not always the case.

More information about parenting matters can be found here.

How does an IVO impact my property matter?

The answer to this will also depend on the conditions listed on the IVO. Generally, a Respondent cannot communicate with an Affected Family Member regarding property matters and this is usually through lawyers or a mediator.

More information about property matters can be found here.

How we can help

It is important to get legal advice as soon as there is an application for an IVO (or once an Interim IVO is made) to ensure you or the other person does not breach the IVO and what steps can be taken to negotiate your parenting arrangements and/or property settlement.

At Coulter Legal, we have a specialised Family & Relationship Law team dedicated to helping individuals navigate their Intervention Order and Family Law matters. We can assist individuals to either obtain or defend an Intervention Order and negotiate parenting and property arrangements alongside.

Bonnie Phillips.
Bonnie Phillips Principal Lawyer Head of Family & Relationship Law View profile
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