While domestic violence is not defined, domestic violence is regarded as including the physical, sexual or psychological violence which threatens the safety or welfare of family members and certain persons in other domestic relationships.
If you or a dependent is suffering from domestic violence, then you may be able to apply to the Court for an Order under the Domestic Violence Act.
This can be done at the first stage on an “ex-parte” basis: this means that the other person is not put on notice of the application. If successful, you will be given a temporary Order, and a hearing date for the full hearing. A copy of the Order will be sent to your local Gardai and a copy served on the person against whom the Order is made.
The Courts offer 4 types of protection to people who are suffering from domestic violence
– A Protection Order is a temporary Safety Order. A court may make this order when a person applies for a Safety and / or Barring Order. A Protection Order is temporary and will last until the full court hearing of the application for a safety or barring order;
– A Safety Order: at its simplest, a Safety Order prevents a person from using or threatening violence towards the person applying for the order and / or any dependent children;
– An Interim Barring Order is a temporary Barring Order. A court may make this order when a person applies for a Barring Order. An Interim Barring Order only lasts until the full court hearing of the application for a Barring Order and is only made in exceptional circumstances; and
– A Barring Order requires a person, against whom the order is made, to leave and stay away from the place of residence of the person applying for the order and / or dependent children.
How long do the Orders last for?
The District Court can make a safety order for a five year period and a barring order for up to three years. These orders may be renewed.
Who can apply for the Orders?
The following persons may apply for orders under the domestic violence legislation:-
– Spouses (husbands or wives);
– Co-habitees, who are not married but living together. The co-habitees must have lived together for six months during the twelve month period before the application for protection was made. A court will not grant a Barring Order unless the co-habitees lived together for six months during the nine month period before making the application. Also, a Barring Order will not be made against a co-habitee who is the owner of the property where they live or who has greater ownership rights than the co-habitee seeking protection;
– Parents: against their children over the age of 18 years. However, a court will not grant a barring order against a child who owns the place of residence or who has greater ownership rights than the parent seeking protection;
– Persons living together in the same residence may apply for protection against each other. The person against whom protection is sought must be over the age of 18 years. However, the court will not grant protection if it considers that there is a contractual relationship between the persons. A safety order is the only protection available here;
– Children can seek protection, but they cannot apply themselves. They must have an adult or a health board apply to the court for them;
– A parent may apply for protection on behalf of his / her own child; and
– A health board may apply for protection on behalf of a person and / or that person’s dependent children in circumstances where the person cannot apply himself / herself.
What happens if an Order is breached?
A “family home” means the house where a married couple (with or without children) normally reside. A family home can be in the sole name of one spouse or in the name of both spouses, many family homes are held in the joint names of both spouses as this is often a condition of the mortgage used to buy the house. The Family Home is given special significance in Irish Law. This can be a complex area of law and our solicitors can advise you in relation to this.