Domestic abuse has many forms and can have a devastating impact on not only your life but any children within the family home. If you are in an abusive relationship or you need protection from an ex-partner, there are laws in Ireland to protect you.
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 sets out the law on restraining orders in Ireland. There are three different orders available to you, namely, a Protection Order, a Safety Order or a Barring Order.
A Protection Order
A Protection Order prohibits the other person from using violence, threatening to use violence, intimidating you, putting you in fear or stalking you either in person or by electronic means (for example sending large volumes of text messages or leaving long voicemails). It puts the other person on their best behaviour.
Once you have a Protection Order, it stays in force until the full hearing of a Safety or Barring Order application.
A Safety Order
A Safety Order is the same as a Protection Order, however, they can be granted for up to 5 years. The other person can remain in the home but they are not allowed to use violence or threaten you. If they don’t live with you, it may stop them from watching you or your home or following you.
You may be eligible for a safety order if you are:
- Spouses and Civil Partners;
- Former Spouses/Civil Partners;
- Partners in an intimate relationship;
- Parents of a child together;
A Barring Order
A Barring Order is a much more powerful tool used by the Court in the most serious of domestic abuse cases.
The abusive person will be made to leave the home and they will not be permitted to return. They will also be prohibited from threatening you, communicating with you or following you. This can last for up to 3 years.
An Interim Barring Order can be obtained from the court for your protection if there are reasonable grounds for believing that your safety or a dependant’s (i.e. your child or children) is at risk. You must show that there is an immediate risk of harm to you or your children. An interim order is only in effect for up to 8 days until a full hearing of your Barring Order application.
If the Court believes that you are in immediate danger, an emergency barring order will be granted.
How can you get an Order from the Court?
You do not need a solicitor to seek the Court’s help but a solicitor can represent you and give you advice on which Order would be most helpful for your situation.
The first step is to attend your local court registry office and tell them you would like to apply for a Protection Order and a Safety or Barring Order. They will then arrange for you to appear before a judge in the District Court, where you will have a chance to explain your situation to the judge.
If the judge is satisfied that your situation requires a Protection Order, they will grant one on the day. A summons for the Safety and/or Barring Order application will then be sent to the other person with a hearing date.
You and the other person must attend on that date and give evidence.
The judge will consider a number of different factors when deciding whether to grant a Safety or Barring Order. These include:
- A history of violence by the respondent toward the applicant
- An increase in severity/frequency of the violence
- Whether any dependent children are witnessing this violence within the home
- A recent separation between the parties as this is a time of high risk
Who can apply for an Order?
Spouses & Civil Partners (or former spouses/partners), cohabiting couples and parents over children over 18 (or over 23 if still in full-time education) can apply for orders. There are certain restrictions, however, depending on the type of relationship and which order you are seeking.
What if they breach the Order?
If an order is granted and the person breaks the terms of the order, e.g. they come to your house or intimidate you, it is a criminal matter and can result in a prison term of 12 months or a fine.
Some helpful resources include:
Women’s Aid: www. womensaid.ie 1800 341 900
Men’s Aid: www.mensaid.ie (01) 554 3811
Safe Ireland: www.safeireland.ie (090) 647 9078
HSE National Counselling Service 1800 235 235
If you are in this situation and you are thinking about applying for a safety or a barring order, and would like legal advice, please contact our office for a confidential discussion.