Intervention Orders in South Australia

You may be reading this blog post because you have been served with an Intervention Order. If so, don’t feel too bad. The courts hand these things out like they’re going out of style.

In South Australia “restraining orders” or “Domestic Violence Restraining Orders” are now called “Intervention Orders”. They are made under the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA). Put simply, they are orders that prohibit you from doing certain things in order to protect a “protected person” from “abuse”. It is a crime to breach an Intervention Order. Breaching an Intervention Order can lead to a sentence of imprisonment.

Intervention Orders can cover a wide range of conduct. Apart from obvious things like “do not harass, assault or intimidate” the protected person, an Intervention Order:

  • Can stop you seeing your children;
  • Can force you to undergo a program in relation to substance abuse, problem gambling, or other behavioural issues;
  • Must require you to surrender any firearm in your possession and any firearm licence you hold; and
  • Can force you to leave your own home.

Initially, Intervention Orders are granted on an “interim” basis. They can be granted by the police or by a Court. Of course the police and the Court only hear one side of the story when deciding whether or not to make an interim Intervention Order.

It is important to understand that the initial order is “interim” only. Once you have been served, you have the right to attend court and dispute the matter if you think the Intervention Order should not be made. The court has to listen to your side of the story before it decides whether the order should be confirmed.

How you approach the matter depends very much on the terms of the order and the particular circumstances. It might be that you consent to the order with no acknowledgment of the truth of the allegations upon which it is based. However, sometimes it is necessary to fight the confirmation of the order.

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for Intervention Orders to be applied for in anticipation of family law proceedings – there is some tactical advantage to be gained by obtaining an Intervention Order prior to commencing family law proceedings, particularly proceedings regarding the custody of children. Family lawyers know this and many are not shy about advising their clients to apply for an Intervention Order. Being served with an Intervention Order application is often the first indication that you will soon find yourself in the family law courts.

If you have been served with an interim Intervention Order we suggest that you seek urgent legal advice. It is particularly important to do so if you have children and you think that there is going to be family law proceedings involving a custody dispute.

We are experienced in Intervention Order matters, family law matters, and matters that involve interaction between the two. To take just one example, our principal Tom Dewar recently acted as successful counsel for the respondent in a Supreme Court appeal concerning the interaction between the state Intervention Order legislation and the federal family law legislation – T, R v L, KC [2013] SASC 51.

Please contact Dewar Legal on (08) 8311 3964 if you need assistance in relation to Intervention Order or family law matters. You can also click here to contact us. We offer a free, no-obligation first consultation.

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