If you are in a situation where you are experiencing domestic violence, then you should immediately ensure the safety of yourself and your children. The District Court recognises the urgency involved in these cases and will give an early hearing date or even an Order there and then.
Under the Domestic Violence Act 1996 there are two different orders for which you can apply at the District Court which will provide protection.
- A Barring Order requires that the violent person leave the family home. It also prohibits the violent person from using or threatening to use violence against you and/or any dependent children. The court can direct the respondent not to attend at or in the vicinity of, or watch the place where the applicant and dependents reside.
- A Safety Order prohibits the abuser from further violence or threats of violence. It does not oblige the violent person to leave the family home. If the abusive person does not live with you, the Safety Order prohibits them from being in the vicinity of or watching your home. Emotional abuse can be taken into account by the judge in deciding whether or not to grant an order.
You are eligible to apply for the above orders if you belong to one of the following categories:
- Married Couples – a married person can apply for protection against violence by their spouse.
- Parents with a child in common – are now eligible for Safety Orders without any cohabitation requirement.
- Cohabiting couples are now eligible for Safety orders without any minimum time requirement (previously 6 out of the previous 12 months). To apply for a barring order, you must be living with your partner for 6 months out of the previous 9 months and have an equal or greater interest in the property.
- Same sex cohabitants’ couples are eligible for Safety and Barring orders in the same way as heterosexual cohabitant couples. (Note that civil partners are already eligible in the same way as spouses).
When an application for either of the above orders has been accepted by the court, you will be given a date for a court hearing. The waiting time varies in different parts of the country.
You will be given your summons for the court hearing at the time of your application. A summons will be sent to the respondent. The respondent is the person you need to be protected from or want barred from your home.
While you are waiting for a court hearing, the court may protect you with an order which lasts only until the date of the hearing. There are two ways the court can protect you while you wait for your hearing:
- Protection Order
- Interim Barring Order
The Protection Order can be granted if the court thinks there are reasonable grounds to believe your safety and welfare is at risk. The Protection Order has the same effect as the Safety Order, (but is only valid until the court hearing for the Safety/Barring Order takes place) whereby, the abusive person is prohibited from further violence or threats of violence, but is not required to leave the home.
If the court is of the view that a Protection Order would not be sufficient to protect you while you wait for your court date, then an Interim Barring Order is granted. The granting of an Interim Barring Order is based on the opinion of the court that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to you.
The Interim Barring Order can be granted ‘viva voce and on oath’ and written evidence is not necessarily required. It is a temporary barring order (requiring the violent person to leave the home) which lasts until the full hearing for the barring order, but can last no longer than 8 working days. The orders are made on an ex parte basis (only one side is represented at the application).
If you do not want a protection order or an interim barring order immediately, you can seek one at any time before your case is heard for a barring or safety order.
At the full hearing, you and the respondent (your partner) will be in court. These hearings are held ‘in camera’, meaning that they are held in private and the public or press are not allowed in the courtroom. You will give evidence and answer questions from the respondent’s legal representative. The respondent will be allowed to respond and he can be cross-examined by your legal representative. It is always advisable to have legal representation at this hearing.
When you get your barring order, safety order, protection order or interim barring order you show it to the Gardai in your local Garda Station and allow them to take a photocopy.
The orders take effect from the time the respondent is notified of the order. This can be done verbally, together with the production of a copy of the order. If the respondent is in court when the order is made the respondent is considered to be notified. A copy of the order will be sent to the respondent by ordinary post. In some cases, the Judge may direct the Gardai ‘to serve’ the order on the respondent. This means the Gardai will hand the order directly to the respondent.
If your abuser breaches a Protection, Safety or Barring Order it is an offence and you can call your local Garda Station.
If you are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence and need legal advice, we would be delighted to assist you at Geraghty & Co., Solicitors. We have extensive experience in dealing with all family law matters including orders in respect of domestic violence and always deal with these matters in a professional, sensitive and efficient manner. If you have any query in respect of this or any other legal matter of which we can be of assistance, please contact us herein by phone on 091-565258 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the ‘Contact Us’ section of our website.
Please note that the above information is for general purposes only and does not constitute professional legal advice. If you require specific advice on any legal matter then please contact us by phone on 091-565258 or by email at email@example.com.