Domestic Violence Court Orders

Access to Court Remedies

The person who seeks protection from the courts is called the applicant, while the person against whom the application is made is called the respondent.

The applicant issues proceedings against the respondent by making an application to the District Court. This can be done through the services of a solicitor or by the applicant themselves, through the local District Court office.

What protection is available?

Remedies available under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 include the following court orders:

  • Safety Order prohibits the respondent from using violent or threatening behaviour towards the applicant (and/or dependent persons) which includes stalking and/or putting them in fear. The respondent is permitted to remain in the family home. If the parties do not normally live together, the order can prohibit the respondent from watching or being near the victim’s home. It can also prevent the respondent from communicating with the applicant, including by electronic means. A safety order can last for up to five years.
  • Barring Order prohibits the respondent from using violent or threatening behaviour towards the applicant or any dependent persons. It requires the respondent to leave the family home. It can also prohibit the respondent from following, watching, or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant. A barring order can last for up to three years but can be extended on application to the court. To apply for a barring order (or interim barring order), you must satisfy the property test. This means that the applicant must have equal or more ownership rights in the property.
  • Protection Order is a temporary safety order which provides immediate short-term protection, prohibiting a person from using violent or threatening behaviour towards the victim. It can be granted by the court upon application for a safety or barring order and lasts until the full hearing of the application.
  • An Interim Barring Order also provides immediate short-term protection by removing the respondent from the family home pending the full hearing of the application for a barring order. This order can only last for a duration of 8 days and may be granted at the discretion of the court if at the time of application for a barring order, the court is of the view that there is an immediate risk to the safety of the applicant. 
  • Emergency Barring Order provides short-term protection to an applicant who has lived with the respondent in an intimate relationship prior to the application (but is not the spouse, civil partner or relative). It requires the abusive person to leave the home, however it only remains in place for a maximum of 8 days. It can only be granted where there is an immediate risk of significant harm, and where the applicant does not satisfy the property test (where the applicant has no legal or beneficial interest in the property, or where the applicant’s legal or beneficial interest is less than that of the respondent).

Am I eligible to apply for a court order?

To check your eligibility for a court order under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, see the following webpage of the Courts Service. 

How to apply for a court order?

Applications under the domestic violence legislation are generally made in the District Court. In an emergency situation, the 2018 Act allows for a member of the Gardaí to request a special out-of-hours sitting of the District Court for applications for an interim barring order, emergency barring order or protection order.

It is advised that victims of domestic violence get a solicitor for domestic violence court order applications. If you cannot afford a solicitor, it is possible to apply to the Legal Aid Board for Civil Legal Aid or to act as a lay litigant. 

You can check whether you are likely to qualify for legal aid here. Applications for civil legal aid can be made online or through your local law centre. If a solicitor is not involved, you will need to contact your local District Court office. While legal representation is not necessary for the initial application, it is highly recommended for the full court hearing. 

The Courts Service can guide you through the application process. For contact details for any District Court in Ireland, click here

The Courts Service provides further information on the available court orders and the application process, including who can apply (such as spouses, civil partners, and co-habiting couples) and how to apply. 

What protection is available while awaiting the hearing for a safety or barring order?

An application can be made for emergency protection via a protection order, an interim barring order, or an emergency barring order where there is significant risk of harm. The application can be made without notifying the other party. Where a protection order or an interim barring order is granted, this remains in force until the full hearing of the barring/safety order application. Further details are available here

Breach of a Domestic Violence Order

Domestic violence orders take effect from the time the respondent is notified of the making of the order. This either occurs at the time of the order being made where the respondent is in court, or upon service of the order by post, or service of the order by a member of the Gardaí. 

If a domestic violence court order has been breached, please contact the Gardaí on 999.

If you need support, there is a domestic violence support service in every county. Click here for details. 

Anyone who breaches a court order (safety order, barring order, protection order, interim barring order, or emergency barring order) is guilty of a criminal offence and may be arrested immediately without warrant by Gardaí and prosecuted.

The penalties on conviction include a fine of up to €4000 and/or a sentence of 12 months in prison. The relationship between the parties is now an aggravating factor in sentencing. This means that if the victim is or was a spouse, civil partner or in an intimate relationship with the offender, the court is required to impose a greater sentence unless exceptional circumstances exist.

If convicted a defendant who is spared a custodial sentence will still have a criminal record. Proceedings for the breach of an order are held in private.

Further Information

  • The Courts Service provides accessible information on domestic violence, detailing the available court orders and the application process, including who can apply (such as spouses, civil partners, and co-habiting couples) and how to apply.
  • An Garda Síochána provides helpful information on domestic abuse, including the reporting of domestic abuse; the indicators of domestic abuse; coercive control; domestic violence court orders; and support services.
  • The Women's Aid website also provides accessible information on domestic violence, including dating abuse, domestic violence and children, coercive control, digital safety, and advice on supporting a victim of domestic violence. The Women's Aid webpage also contains concise information on the most frequently asked questions about domestic violence court orders, including: 
    • When does the order come into effect?
    • What orders can I apply for?
    • How do I apply for orders?
    • Do I need legal representation?
    • What documentation do I need?
    • What happens next?
    • How am I protected in the meantime?
    • What happens at full hearings?
    • What if an order is broken?
    • Who can avail of Protection through the Courts?
    • Who doesn’t qualify for protection?
    • Is there any other form of legal protection?
    • What about divorce and separation?
    • Who can help me through this process?
  • The Citizens Information website provides further information on safety, protection and barring orders, and provides contact details for a range of support services.
  • FLAC has also produced an information leaflet on the type of court orders that can be granted.

Contacts

OrganisationTelephoneEmailWebsiteAddress
Samaritans  (01) 6710071; Freephone: 116-123    www.samaritans.ie  Samaritans Ireland, 4-5 Usher’s Court, Usher’s Quay, Dublin 8 
COSC – The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence  (01) 4768680  cosc@justice.ie     Department of Justice and Equality, 2nd Floor, Montague Court, Montague Street, Dublin 2 
TUSLA – Child and Family Agency  (01) 635 2854  info@tusla.ie   www.tusla.ie  Child and Family Agency, Block D, Park Gate Business Centre, Parkgate Street, Dublin, Ireland 
Legal Aid Board  1890 350 250 / +353 1 874 5690    www.flac.ie   Free Legal Advice Centre, 13 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1, Ireland 
Citizens Information  0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm).    www.citizensinformation.ie  Drop in 260 locations nationwide 
AMEN  046 9023718  info@amen.ie     St Anne’s Resource Centre, Railway Street, Navan, Co Meath. 
Barnardos 01 453 0355 Callsave: 1850 222 300 info@barnardos.ie  www.barnardos.ie  Barnardos National Office, Christchurch Square, Dublin 8. (Open Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5pm)

Family Law Information Research Group

School of Law, Áras na Laoi, University College Cork,

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