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3 min read - April 22, 2024

Family Violence and Protection Orders

Family Violence is a serious issue in New Zealand, with Police attending a family harm incident every three minutes in 2022.[1] The Domestic Violence Act 1995 was amended and updated to become the Family Violence Act 2018 (the Act) in the hope of reducing these alarming figures.

The purpose of the Act is to recognise, stop, and prevent family violence in all its forms all in the pursuit of keeping victims (including children) safe from harm. Underpinning the Act is the fundamental principle that family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable. 

Family violence, as defined under the Act, encompasses any violence directed at an individual by another person with whom they are or have been in a familial relationship.[2] This definition is expansive, covering physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Additionally, family violence is not limited to isolated incidents; it includes patterns of behaviour, such as isolating an individual from their family and friends.

One way the Act provides help is allowing those suffering from family violence to apply to the Court, with or without notice for a protection order. The goal of a protection order is to create a safe environment for the person suffering harm. The order stops an aggressor from contacting individuals protected by the order and from committing or threatening family violence. Additionally, the aggressor is not allowed to possess any weapons or weapons licence. Violating these provisions constitutes the breach of a court order, and thus a criminal offence.

To obtain a protection order, the Court must be satisfied that the aggressor is inflicting or has inflicted family violence, and that the protection order is necessary. In determining whether family violence has occurred, the Judge will examine the specific facts of the individual case. Where family violence has occurred, the next step is to determine whether the order is necessary. The applicant is only required to show a reasonable subjective fear of future violence. In law this phrase means that the Judge will determine whether the applicant’s personal belief of fear is reasonable given their particular circumstances.

If the individual seeking the protection order has no alternative accommodation, occupation and ancillary orders may be made at the same time, requiring the respondent to vacate the home.

The family team here at K3 can assist with applying for these orders. However, if you or someone you know is struggling from family violence, there are some immediate solutions available through accommodation at women’s refuge For more information about these safe spaces, please see   https://womensrefuge.org.nz/ or  https://08004wiseguys.org/.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/26/theres-a-huge-problem-new-zealand-searches-for-new-ways-to-tackle-family-violence
[2] Family Protection Act 2019, s 9(1).

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