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On 1 January 2019, the Domestic Violence Act 2018 came into effect. It updates the law on domestic violence and provides for additional protections for victims of domestic violence described below.
A new offence of coercive control of a spouse, civil partner or intimate partner also came into force under the 2018 Act. Coercive control is a pattern of intimidation, humiliation and controlling behaviour that causes fear of violence or serious distress that has a substantial impact on the victim’s day-to-day activities.
Under domestic violence legislation, the main kinds of protection available are safety orders and barring orders.
A safety order is an instruction from the court which stops the violent person (the respondent) from committing further violence or threats of violence. The respondent does not have to leave the home. If the person is not living with you, the safety order prohibits (bans) them from watching or being near your home and following or communicating (including electronically) with you or a dependent person such as a child. A safety order can last up to 5 years.
From 1 January 2019, people in an intimate relationship are also able for apply for a safety order. Previously, couples had to cohabit (live together) to be able to get a safety order, but this is no longer the case. The following can apply for a safety order:
– Spouses and civil partners
– Parents with a child in common
– Partners in an intimate relationship including cohabitants (a couple living together) and dating partners (a couple not living together)
– Parents of an abusive child if that child is over 18
– People residing with the respondent in a non-contractual relationship, such as two relatives living together
– Former partners
Between the time of making an application for a safety order and the court’s determination (decision), there may be reasonable grounds for believing that the safety and welfare of you or of a dependent person is at risk. If so, the court can grant a protection order.
A protection order is temporary and only effective until the court hearing for the application for a safety order.
A barring order has the same level of protection as a safety order, but it also requires the violent person to leave the home and prohibits (bans) the person from entering the home.
A barring order can last up to 3 years. The following people can apply for a barring order:
– Spouses and civil partners
– Cohabitants who live in an intimate relationship (the applicant must satisfy the property test, that is, they must have an equal or greater interest in the property than the respondent)
– Parents when the abuser is a non-dependent child
Interim Barring Orders
Between the time of making an application for a barring order and the court’s decision, there may be reasonable grounds for believing that the safety and welfare of you or of a dependent person is at risk. If so, the court can grant an interim barring order. An interim barring order is an immediate order. It requires the abusive person to leave the home. Interim Barring Order last for 8 days until the hearing of the full Barring Order.
Emergency Barring Orders
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 provides for a new order called an emergency barring order. An emergency barring order requires the violent person to leave the home and prohibits the person from entering the home. This is an immediate order where there are reasonable grounds to believe there is an immediate risk of significant harm to you or a dependent person. The Gardaí can call a special sitting of the courts to apply for an emergency barring order.
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 applicant 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.