I have been served
If you have been served with a domestic violence summons it means that another person is applying to the court for a domestic violence order.
If you have been served with a domestic violence order, it means that another person has already attended court and a domestic violence order has been made by a judge.
In some cases, you might be served with both a domestic violence summons and a domestic violence order at the same time.
The person who has applied to the court is called the applicant. You are called the respondent.
I have been served with a summons
If you have been served with a summons, it means that another person has applied to the court for a domestic violence order. This person could be a current or former spouse, civil partner, former intimate partner, or the other parent of your child(ren).
It also means you are being commanded to appear in court for the judge to make a decision on the application. The summons will tell you the date, time, and place of the court hearing for the domestic violence application.
You should read the summons and any included documents very carefully. The summons will tell you what the other person is applying for. They may be applying for a:
- Safety Order
- Barring Order
Once you have read and understood what's in the summons, your next steps are:
1) Consider legal advice and support services
Family Law decisions can have an impact on things such as arrangements for your children, maintenance, the family home, money, assets and pensions.
You might want to get legal advice to better understand these impacts. While the Courts Service cannot advise or represent people in court, we can inform you that services offered by a legal representative should include:
- advising you of your legal rights
- preparing and filing your paperwork
- speaking on your behalf in court
You can decide to represent yourself in your Family Law matter. If you decide to represent yourself, you will need to understand court procedures.
2) Attend the court hearing
The summons will tell you the date and time of the court hearing for the domestic violence order application.
- You must show up in court on the appointed date and time.
- The applicant is expected to attend this hearing.
- Both of you can give evidence. This means you will have to take an oath and give relevant information about the application.
- Cross-examination may take place. This means answering questions from the other person. The judge will decide how this will happen. They may allow questions to be asked personally by the other person, or by a solicitor or barrister only.
At the hearing, the judge may decide to:
- Grant an order and set out its terms and conditions. They will also decide how long the order will last for.
- Refuse the order. This means that after hearing the evidence, they do not grant the order that the applicant has applied for.
- Adjourn the application. This means postponing a decision on an application to a later date.
- Strike out the application. This means dismissing or permanently cancelling an application. This can happen if the applicant or their solicitor fail to appear in court. It also means that any related protective orders, such as a Protection Order or Interim Barring Order, are also cancelled and no longer in place.
3) After the court hearing
If a court order is granted:
- You and the applicant will receive a copy of the order.
- The court office will send a copy to An Garda Síochána for their records.
It is a criminal offence to breach a domestic violence order. Breaching an order can be punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
You have the right to appeal if you are not happy with the decision of the judge. If you wish to appeal the decision, you must file your appeal documents within fourteen days of the court hearing.
I have been served with an order
Domestic violence orders are court protections. They are made by a judge and come with specific instructions or directions. Some direct a person accused of abusive behaviour to stop committing further acts or threats of violent behaviour. Others direct that person to leave - and stay away from - you or dependent children and the home. They may also include other conditions.
There are five different types of domestic order:
- Protection Order
- Safety Order
- Barring Order
- Interim Barring Order
- Emergency Barring Order
Most applications for orders are made in the District Court. However, some are made in the Circuit Court or High Court. These are often in relation to other cases such as divorce or judicial separation.
If you have been served with a domestic violence order, you are known as the respondent. The person who has been granted the order is known as the applicant.
You should read the order and any other included documents very carefully. The order will contain information about what you must do. It will also tell you how long the order is in place for.
You must obey the court order. Breaching a domestic violence order is a criminal offence and can be punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
You have the right to appeal if you are not happy with the decision of the judge. If you want to appeal the order of a District Court judge, you must file your appeal documents within fourteen days of the hearing.
If you want to appeal the order of a Circuit Court judge, you must file your appeal documents within ten days of the hearing.
You can also apply to the court to vary or discharge the order.
You might want to get legal advice to better understand your options.