Criminal law

Navigating the maze of intervention orders whilst in a Family law dispute

When a marriage or de facto relationship breaks down, there can be a crossover between Family law matters and intervention orders (also informally known as ‘restraining orders’).

So… what is an intervention order?

Intervention orders help to protect a person and their family if they are a victim of abuse, and are tailored to the particular person and their situation. They can be issued by the police or by a court.

For more information about intervention orders, read this blog which goes into detail about how to obtain an intervention order.

I‘ve been served with an intervention order – what do I do?

If you’ve been served with an intervention order by South Australia Police, it’s very important you get legal advice as soon as possible. This includes circumstances where your ex-partner and/or your children are the protected persons under the intervention order.

We find that when children are involved, the conditions of an intervention order can often be confusing or ambiguous. This may be because both parties seek to continue co-parenting the children, or it may be necessary that there be ongoing communications between you and your ex-partner in relation to the children, despite the existence of the intervention order. As such, it is crucial that you seek legal advice about what contact (if any) is permitted with your ex-partner and/or your children to ensure you are not in breach of the order.

The circumstances of every individual case are unique, and the standard conditions of an intervention order adopted by the Court, or police, often have serious and perhaps unintended consequences. For example, once an intervention order has been served, it may result in a person being without any accommodation or access to their children for an extended period.

Breaching an intervention order

Regardless of the circumstances, any breach of an intervention order is a serious offence and can be punishable by imprisonment, even if the protected person instigated the breach. As such, you must be aware that the implications of being served with an intervention order extend beyond the conditions.

Bail conditions

If you have been served with an intervention order and charged with criminal allegations, you may also be subject to bail conditions. Bail conditions and intervention order conditions can often be confusing, particularly when both are operating at the same time. In these circumstances it is important to seek legal advice to ensure you understand how the conditions operate and the consequences of any alleged breaches. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a defendant to be charged with breaches of bail and/or an intervention order because of a lack of understanding or appreciation of the conditions. Ultimately this can result in a defendant being held in police custody.

The crossover between Criminal law and Family law

If you have been served with an intervention order and you have existing orders in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, or you and your ex-partner are yet to reach an agreement about children’s and/or property matters, it may be important that you seek both Criminal law and Family law advice which is specific to your circumstances.

A Criminal lawyer will be able to provide you with advice about the terms and the repercussions of the existing intervention order.

In circumstances where your children are protected persons under the intervention order, a Family lawyer may be able to assist you to negotiate with your ex-partner about your time and/or communication with the children, which is permitted under the existing intervention order.

In circumstances where your ex-partner is the protected person under the intervention order and direct communication is prohibited, you may require assistance from a Family lawyer to resolve other issues resulting from the breakdown of your relationship, such as property settlement matters.

It may also be necessary to seek advice from a Criminal lawyer about varying the terms of the intervention order, if appropriate.

Why you should seek legal advice!

Do not rely on advice from Police, family, or friends about what an intervention order means, or how it might impact your current circumstances. Police officers are not qualified to give any legal advice and they’re not aware of your unique circumstances. It is not a defence to an alleged breach of any order, to advise the Court that a Police officer told you that “it should be ok”. The only way to ensure you’re properly informed is to obtain specialist legal advice.

At Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers we have lawyers who are specialists in both Family law and Criminal law, who can work collaboratively to achieve the best possible outcome for you. Get in touch with Kevin or Scarlett to discuss how we can help you navigate the tricky intersection of Family law matters and intervention orders.