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What happens at the first court appearance?

Your first court appearance is called a ‘mention’. A mention is a short court appearance where the magistrate will check if your application has been served on the respondent and find out if the respondent agrees or disagrees with your application for a domestic violence order. You do not need to bring any witnesses to the first court appearance.

What happens if I do not arrive on time or do not turn up for court?

If you do not arrive at court on time, your application may be dismissed. If this happens and you still want a domestic violence protection order, you will need to file a new application with the court.

Can I take my children to court with me?

There is no one at the court to look after your children. It is not appropriate to bring children into the courtroom with you.

If you have to bring your children to court, you should bring someone with you to look after them. If possible, try to leave your children with a trusted family member, friend or babysitter.

When you go to court

  • Arrive at court 15 to 30 minutes early.
  • If you don’t have a lawyer, a domestic violence duty lawyer may be available in some courts. They can give you free legal advice about your court appearance. Check with the court registry before your court date to find out if this is an option for you. Sometimes the police prosecutor may be able to help you in court.
  • If you’d like extra support, you can talk to a domestic violence prevention worker who may be available at some courts. Check with the court registry before your court date to find out if this support is available.
  • You can bring your own support person to court. The magistrate will decide whether your support person can come into the courtroom with you. Your support person cannot speak for you unless they have made the application for you as an authorised person.

Will I have to see the respondent in the waiting room?

If you are worried about seeing the respondent in the waiting room, contact the court registry about your situation before you arrive. Some courts have a safe room where you can wait before and after your court appearance. Some safe rooms have direct access in and out of the court room. At some courts you can enter and exit the building through the safe room.

If you have concerns about your safety while at court, you can let the court staff know by filling in a Domestic and Family Violence Safety form. This form is available from the Queensland Courts website or at the registry when you file your application. Court staff will give a copy of the form to the security officer, domestic violence prevention worker, the court registrar and any other relevant staff to arrange your safety at court.

Who’s who in the courtroom?

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1. Magistrate — hears the application and decides whether to make the domestic violence order.

2. Depositions clerk — helps the magistrate and records proceedings.

3. Police prosecutor — represents you if it is a police application.

4. Lawyer — represents people in a domestic violence order application in court.

5. Respondent — the person responding to the application for a domestic violence order.

6. Witnesses — people who tell the court about something they heard or saw that is relevant to your application.

What are the respondent’s options?

When the respondent receives their copy of the domestic violence order application they can:

  • agree (consent) to a domestic violence order being made; the respondent can only agree to a domestic violence order being made if they are in court when they consent, or through a lawyer or in writing; the respondent can agree to a domestic violence order being made without admitting to the facts—this is called ‘consenting without admission’
  • ask for the court proceedings to be adjourned (put off) to another date so they can get legal advice
  • oppose the order­—if this happens, the court may give you a hearing date
  • do nothing (and not attend court).

If the respondent agrees to the orders you want, the magistrate will make the domestic violence order for five years. If there are special circumstances, you can ask the magistrate to make the domestic violence order for more or less time.

If the respondent asks to adjourn your application, you should ask the magistrate to issue a temporary protection order until the next court date.

If the respondent has been served and does not agree with your application for a domestic violence order, the magistrate will give you a date for a contested hearing. This will be a date where you, the respondent and any relevant witnesses may be cross-examined or asked questions about the domestic violence. (See page 31 for more information about contested hearings.)

If the respondent has not been served with the documents before the first court appearance, the magistrate will adjourn your application to another date, so the respondent can be served with the documents. If you think you will be in danger during that time, you can ask the magistrate to make a temporary protection order for you until the next court date.

What happens if the respondent applies for a domestic violence order against me?

When both parties apply for a domestic violence order against each other, this situation is called a ‘cross application’.

You should get legal advice if there is a cross application.

If the magistrate believes the application is vexatious (being used to cause annoyance), or is without merit, they may dismiss it.

If the respondent opposes your application, there will be a contested hearing at a later date (see What happens at a contested hearing?for more information about contested hearings). The magistrate may transfer the applications so they are heard together on the same date. At the contested hearing the magistrate must consider who is most in need of protection.

If the magistrate gives you a court date for a contested hearing, you should get legal representation from the police prosecutor (if the police are making the application), a private lawyer or a Legal Aid Queensland lawyer. You should organise this as soon as you are given the contested hearing date so there is time to prepare your court material.

What happens if the respondent doesn’t come to court?

If the respondent does not come to court at the required time the magistrate can:

  • • adjourn the application to another court date
  • • make a final domestic violence order with the conditions that you asked for in your application (see page 36 for more information about final orders)
  • • issue a warrant for the respondent’s arrest.

If the respondent is not at court, and the police can show they have served the respondent, the magistrate can make a final domestic violence order. The magistrate must be satisfied any conditions included in your domestic violence order are supported by enough evidence.

Last updated 7 April 2021

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