Domestic Violence Orders

If you are being subjected to abuse by a current or former partner, you can get legal protection through the courts.

What legal protection can I get?

There are two different types of protection, known as ‘Domestic Violence Orders’, you can apply for:

  1. Safety Order: A Safety Order is an instruction from the court which stops the person accused of abusive behaviour (the respondent) from being violent or making threats of violence. The respondent does not have to leave the home. If the person is not living with you, the safety order bans them from watching or being near your home, following or communicating (including electronically) with you or a dependent person such as a child. A safety order can last up to 5 years.
  2. Barring Order: A Barring Order requires the person accused of abusive behaviour to leave the home and prohibits the person from entering the home again. The order also bans the person from being violent or making threats of violence; watching or being near your home, or following or communicating (including electronically) with you or a dependent person.  A barring order can last up to 3 years.

How do I apply for orders?

  • To apply for a Barring Order or a Safety Order you must go to your local District Court Office.
  • You can find out where your local family district court sits online or by ringing 01 8886000.
  • When you get to the District Court Office, the District Court Clerk will help you to fill out the correct form.

Do I need legal representation?

  • You do not need legal representation for your initial application stage. However, it is highly recommended that you have legal representation for full hearings.

What documentation do I need?

  • For ex-parte cases (for a Protection Order, Emergency Barring Order or Interim Barring Order) you need to attend in person.
  • You will need to mention any evidence you have for the full hearing – this includes reports from GPs, hospitals or the Gardaí.
  • You will need an address for the abuser/respondent.
  • You must also bring proof of identity such as a passport or driver’s licence.

What happens next?

  • 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‘ll receive your summons for the court hearing at the time of your application. The Courts Service or the Gardaí will serve the respondent with all relevant documents on your behalf.

How will I be protected in the meantime?

While you are waiting for a court hearing, the court may protect you with a temporary Order, which lasts only until the date of the hearing.  There are three ways the court can protect you while you wait for your hearing:

  1. Protection Order: A Protection Order can be granted if the court has reasonable grounds to believe your safety and welfare are  at risk. The Protection Order has the same effect as the Safety Order,  whereby the abusive person is banned from further violence or threats of violence, but is not required to leave the home. However, a Protection Order is only valid until the court hearing for the Safety/Barring Order takes place.
  2. Interim Barring Order: If the court believes that a Protection Order would not be enough to protect you from harm while you wait for your court date, then an Interim Barring Order is granted.  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).
  3. Emergency Barring Order: An Emergency Barring Order requires the person accused of violent or abusive behaviour to leave the home, and prohibits them from entering the home. This is an immediate order where there is reasonable grounds to believe there is a risk of significant harm to you or a dependent person (for example, a child).  Unlike an Interim Barring Order, the applicant does not have to satisfy the property test to be able to get an Emergency Barring Order. This means the person applying for the order does not need to own, co-own or have their name on the lease of the property. An Emergency Barring Order can last for a maximum of 8 working days. It prohibits the same behaviours as a Barring Order.

If you do not want a temporary Order immediately, you can seek one at any time before your case for a Barring or Safety Order is heard.

What happens at full hearings?

  • At the full hearing, you and the respondent (your partner) will be in court. 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 Domestic Violence Order you show it to the Gardai in your local Garda Station. Do not give them your Order (you must allow them to take a photocopy).

When does the Order come into effect?

  • A Domestic Violence Order takes effect from the time the respondent is notified of the O 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.

What if an Order is broken?

  • If your abuser breaches a Domestic Violence Order it is a criminal offence and you can call your local Garda Station.

Who can avail of protection through the Family Law Courts?

There are different groups of people who can apply for an order under the Domestic Violence Act, 2018. Each of those groups can apply for different categories of Orders.  The table below is a guide that may help you decide what you want to apply to the court for.

Relationship to Respondent Barring Order Safety Order Protection Order Interim Barring Order Emergency Barring Order
Spouse / Former Spouse / Civil Partner Y Y Y Y N
A person who lived with the respondent in an intimate relationship before making the application (co-habitant) Y* Y Y Y* Y**
A person who was in an intimate relationship with the respondent but did not live with them before making the application. N Y Y N N
Parent of a child whose other parent is the respondent N Y Y N N
Parent of the respondent. Respondent has to be of full age and not a dependent. Y* Y Y Y* Y**
A person of full age who lives with the respondent. The relationship cannot be a contractual one such as landlord/tenant. N Y Y N N

* Applicant must have same or greater legal or beneficial interest as the respondent in the property

** Applicant has none or has less legal or beneficial interest than the respondent in the property


Other Useful Information and Support

The District Court is a court of local and limited jurisdiction. It deals mainly with proceedings in relation to Protection Orders, Safety Orders and Barring Orders under the Domestic Violence Act 1996. Other matters dealt with in the District Court in relation to family law are as follows; maintenance, guardianship, custody, access, the disposal of household chattels, passport applications, property and declaration of parentage.

Some District Courts combine Criminal and Family Law and, it is important for anyone wishing to make an application for an order to phone the court in advance to enquire about when Family Law is heard and what arrangements there are for making emergency applications.

List of District Courts

Under the civil legal aid scheme the services of solicitors and barristers are made available to persons on lower incomes at minimal cost. Eligibility for legal aid is means tested – based on the disposable income and disposable capital available to the applicant. A contribution towards the cost of legal services is paid. The cost will depend on the result of the court settlement. The Legal Aid Board prioritises cases of domestic violence. A Private Practitioner Scheme is available, whereby private solicitors can be accessed through Legal Aid at short notice for emergency orders such as Safety and Barring Orders. There is a nominal fee to be represented by a solicitor in the district court.

More information on the Legal Aid Board

FLAC runs a telephone information and referral line offering basic legal information to the public.  They also run free confidential service legal advice clinics that provides first stop, basic legal information, advice and referral and is delivered by FLAC volunteer lawyers.

Legal information Line: 01 906 10 10

More information on FLAC