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What is a Protection Order? The purpose of a Protection Order is to protect you (the applicant), your children, and anyone else named on it.
The abusive person named on it, or respondent, must not go to your house, neighbourhood or work place and must not follow you or contact you nor the children named in the order in any way, unless specific arrangements have been made. They may not encourage anyone else to harass, intimidate or assault you. They must surrender firearms to the Police, and are usually directed to attend a stopping violence programme by the Court.
A Protection Order can include an Occupation/Tenancy Order so that the applicant can occupy the family home and the respondent has to move out immediately.
How do I get a Protection Order?
It is recommended to have a lawyer prepare the application, or you can collect the forms from the Family Court. You are eligible for Legal Aid to pay a lawyer if you are on a benefit, have a low income, or no income. You may also be eligible for Legal Aid if you are living with someone who has a high income but you are applying for a Protection Order against that person. If you are eligible for legal aid, the order will cost you nothing. Once the application is completed, it must be approved by a Judge, then the Court will serve the order on the respondent, at which point the order is effective immediately.
Shine Advocates can recommend a lawyer to you. For information and advice call the free Shine Helpline 0508 744 633.
How long will it take?
A Protection Order can be granted within 24 hours if the situation is serious. Otherwise it can take a few more days.
What do I need to give the lawyer?
Try to take copies of the following things with you to the lawyer to speed up the process:
- marriage certificate
- birth certificates of you and your children
- reports or photographs from past abuse or visits to the doctor or hospital
- names and numbers of those who can back up your story, e.g. neighbour, relative, friend
- NZ citizenship or residency papers.
How will the Protection Order work?
If the Protection Order is breached or ignored, for example the person named on it tries to contact you in any way – you should report it to the Police. The abuser may then be arrested, go to prison or pay a fine. If you are dissatisfied with how the Police respond to reported breaches, please ring Shine’s Helpline for advice.
A Protection Order is also kept on the abuser’s Police file (but it does not show up on a Police check, for example if that person applies for a job requiring a Police check). It is important to make copies of your order:
- Keep one in your handbag
- Keep one at home
- Give one to your employer, or minimally keep one with you at work
- Give one to your local Police station (yes, the Police should have access to it through their computer files, but this will ensure they have access to your order regardless)
- Give one to each child’s school/daycare and talk to the principal about making sure that staff do not allow the respondent to access your children
Remember: If you move house, jobs, schools, give a copy of your Protection Order to the new local Police station, employer, school, etc...
For more information about Protection Orders, click here.
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