|WHAT LEGAL PROTECTION IS AVAILABLE?
Physical or sexual violence against a family member is a crime. The Gardai have the power to arrest and prosecute a violent family member. The Gardai’s powers of arrest have been strengthened in the Domestic Violence Act, 1996.
Under this law, there are 2 main kinds of protection available.
A Safety Order
This is an order of the court, which forbids the violent person from further violence, or threats of violence. This order does not mean that the violent person has to leave the family home. If that person lives apart from you the order forbid them from watching or being near your home.
A Barring Order
This is an order, which removes the violent person from the family home.
While you are waiting for the court to decide your application, the court can give you an immediate order called the Protection Order. This has the same effect as the Safety Order. It is intended to last until the courts decide on your case. In exceptional circumstances the court can grant an interim barring order which is an immediate order removing the violent person from the family home.
APPLYING FOR PROTECTION
You can apply for protection under the law if you come within one of these categories:
A married person can apply for protection against abuse by their spouse.
Where a couple are not married to each other but are living together, one partner can apply for protection from abuse by the other partner. If you have been living with your partner for 6 months during the past year, you can apply for a Safety Order. If you have been living together for 6 months during the last 9 months you can get a Barring Order, unless the abusive partner owns the family home in full, or has greater ownership rights than you do.
A parent can apply for protection from abuse by their own child if the child is over 18 and not suffering from a disability. You can get a Barring Order, unless the adult child owns the home in full, or has greater ownership than you do. You can also get a Safety Order even if a Barring Order is not available. This requires a separate application.
For all of the above an application for a Safety Order of a Barring Order can be made and we can help you to do this.
Others Living Together
You can apply for protection against abuse by someone over 18 who you are living with if the court decides that your relationship is not primarily based on a contract. For example, two relatives living together could be covered. If you come within this heading, the courts will be able to give you a Safety Order. You will not qualify for a Barring Order.
You can apply for a legal order either because of violence towards you, towards your child, or towards a child who you are looking after, or towards someone over 18 who is suffering from a disability.
The Health Service Executive may, in special circumstances, seek protection on your behalf.
HOW LONG WILL A COURT ACTION LAST?
In the District Court, a Safety Order can last up to 5 years and a Barring Order up to 3 years. These orders can be renewed in certain circumstances.
WHAT HAPPENS IS THE ORDER IS BROKEN?
If you are granted a court order and the abuser breaks it, that is a crime. The Gardai can arrest and charge that person.
WHERE DO I GET FURTHER HELP OR INFORMATION?
• Contact your local Garda Station
• For legal assistance, you can contact a private solicitor or
• The Legal Aid Board, 1 Day Place, Tralee. Tel 066 7126900. The Board will be able to advise you on whether you qualify for legal aid or advice.
• The District Court Office in your area will also be able to help you in relation to your application. The telephone numbers are as follows:
District Court, Killarney. Tel 064 31142
District Court, Listowel. Tel 064 21220
District Court, Tralee. Tel 066 7121187
• Kerry Women’s Refuge & Support Service, Killeen Road, Tralee. Tel 066 7129100 (Open 24 hours).