Social Domestic violence in Ireland is mainly governed by the Domestic Violence Act 1996 (as amended). The main aims of this legislation are to protect persons in domestic relationships where their safety or welfare is at risk and to increase the powers of An Garda Siochana to arrest without warrant in certain circumstances.
This article will explain the two main court orders which one may seek if he/she has been subjected to, or is at risk of being subjected to, domestic violence at the hands of a person with whom he/she is in a domestic relationship.
A barring order is an order directing the violent person, if residing at a place where the person seeking the court order also resides, to leave such place and also prohibits the violent person from entering such place until such time as the court specifies. The barring order may remain in force for a period of up to three years.
The court, when considering the application for a barring order, must be of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the safety or welfare of the person seeking the order is at risk if the order is not granted.
The categories of persons against whom one may seek a barring order include spouses, civil partners, cohabiting couples, parents of adult children and other relatives living together. In the case of spouses and civil partners, a barring order may be granted even if the home in which the couple resides is wholly owned by the violent spouse/civil partner. In the case of co-habiting couples, a barring order may only be granted if the couple have been living together in an intimate and committed relationship for a period of six out the previous nine months and if the partner seeking the order has a greater or equal interest in the property than the violent partner. This rule in relation to ownership of property also applies to parents seeking barring orders against their adult children and other relatives who live together where one relative seeks an order against the other.
A safety order stops short of putting the violent person out of the property but it prohibits the violent person from using or threatening to use violence against the person seeking the order. If the parties do not reside together, the court may order that the violent person is not to watch or beset the place where the person seeking the order resides.
A safety order may remain in force for up to five years.
Safety orders are available to spouses and former spouses, civil partners and former civil partners, co-habitants, parents of an adult child and other relatives living together.
Applications for the above orders may be made in the appropriate District Court.
Don’t make excuses!