Your preferred office location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. HHG Articles
  4. /
  5. Court Ordered Boundaries in Shifting Relationships
4 Dec 2014

Psychologists regularly remind us of the importance of setting boundaries. Sometimes when people cannot between them set the boundaries, or one of them won’t respect boundaries, all that is left is for the Courts to set legal boundaries. In Western Australia, the Magistrates Court does this by imposing restraining orders in a process which is relatively fast and often very effective. This is a key part of the family law system within Western Australia.


Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are used to protect someone from the actions of another person. The order will clearly set out what the person bound by an order cannot do. Restraining orders typically restrain a person from being on or near specified premises (such as the protected person’s residence or workplace).  Other restraints may include being disallowed from contacting the protected person by any means or even saying or publishing derogatory things about a person.


MROs and VROs – Differences

There are two main types of restraining order – a Misconduct Restraining Order (MRO) and a Violence Restraining Order (VRO). A VRO requires a higher threshold of actual or feared harm to be proved by the person seeking to be protected than an MRO. A VRO is an order made by a Court or a police officer in order to protect a person from acts by another that are violent or reasonably create fear of violence or abuse.


A MRO is an order made by a Court to protect a person from acts that are intimidating or offensive or could result in a breach of the peace or damage to property. People who were or are involved in a relationship cannot take out an MRO against one another – they must apply for a VRO. Unless the Court specifies otherwise, VROs last for 2 years and MROs last for 1 year.


Emergency Restraining Orders

In emergency situations where police have been called to attend at a place where a person feels imminently threatened by another person’s actions or has been exposed to domestic violence the police can issue a restraining order on the spot. Police orders can only be made in relation to persons who were or are involved in a relationship (or imagined relationship in the case of a stranger who is stalking another person). Police orders can last no longer than 72 hours and are designed to provide immediate protection for a person who feels threatened while that person makes an application to a Court for a VRO that has a longer life. 


Breach of Restraining Order

A breach of a VRO is considered more serious than a breach of an MRO and can result in imprisonment.  A breach of an MRO will result in a fine. If an action that breaches a restraining order is also a criminal offence (such as assault or stalking) then charges for that offence can be brought in addition to a charge of breaching the restraining order.  Committing an offence which also breaches a restraining order aggravates the offence and will result in a harsher penalty than if a restraining order was not in place.


Criminal Record and Restraining Orders

Restraining orders are not criminal charges but a civil action brought by a private citizen against another citizen. If you are or have ever been restrained by a VRO or MRO it does not appear on your criminal record.  If you are found guilty of breaching a restraining order, that offence will appear on your criminal record.


Restraining Order Applications




An initial application for a restraining order can be made to a Court without the Defendant being present.  The applicant decides whether s/he is happy for the initial hearing to be conducted without the respondent present. If the respondent has not been notified of a hearing only an interim restraining order can be issued.  


It is often preferable for applicants to have the first hearing without the respondent present because they are fearful of that person. The usual rules of evidence do not apply at hearings where the respondent is not present in order to allow applicants to present their case simply.


The Magistrate must be satisfied that on the balance of probabilities a restraining order is necessary to protect the applicant from violent, intimidatory or offensive behavior by the respondent. If an interim order is issued the person bound by the order has 21 days to object to it.  If no objection to the order is lodged within that time the interim order automatically becomes a final order.


If a respondent does notify the Court within the prescribed period that s/he objects to the restraining order being made the Court must fix a hearing and a trial will be conducted to determine whether the restraining order is necessary and appropriate.


Evidence at trial must be entered in accordance with the normal rules of evidence.  Witnesses may be called by both the applicant and the respondent and cross examined, documents can be tendered including affidavits and any other evidence that will assist the Court to determine whether a restraining order is necessary and appropriate in the circumstances.


Restraining orders are civil proceedings and the Court must be satisfied that it is more likely than not that the restraining order is necessary to protect the applicant from the respondent. If the applicant can show that s/he is reasonably fearful, offended or intimidated by the respondent then an order can be issued.


Consent Order

The respondent may choose to consent to a restraining order being made.  It may simply be easier to agree to abide by the terms of a restraining order than go to the trouble and expense of defending the application.   Consenting to a restraining order being made does not mean the respondent admits the allegations in the application or that the restraining order is necessary.  It just means the respondent is happy to be restrained – for example from going near the protected person – and does not care to argue the need for the restraining order.


Where a respondent decides to consent to an order it should be possible to negotiate the terms of that consent with the applicant through the magistrate.  For example the respondent may agree to being restrained from visiting the protected person but may not consent to a restraint on things s/he may like to say about the person.


Varying or extending a restraining order



Either the protected person or the person bound by an order can apply to cancel a restraining order at any time after it is issued. A protected person can apply to extend the duration of an order.  The order must be current at the time the Court hears the application to extend it, otherwise a new application for a restraining order will be required.



Sometimes the applicant and respondent are able to negotiate undertakings as an alternative to a restraining order.  Undertakings are a promise between the parties to not do or to do certain things. They are not legally binding and there is no consequence for failing to honour the promises they contain.


If an applicant accepts undertakings given by the respondent s/he may withdraw the application for a restraining order. If at a later date the undertakings are breached or not abided by an application for a restraining order can be made over again. 


It should be easier to prove the need for a restraining order where there were undertakings in place and those undertakings can be clearly shown to have been breached.


This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our Family Lawyers via our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

"My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at Mckinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO Altusq Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

"Lisa, thank you so much for representing me in court, honestly, I would not have had the outcome I got without you. Once again, Thank you so much."


"Matthew Lilly was excellent in processing our project. He achieved the excellent result that we required on our project.

We would give Matthew a 5 star rating.

We will definitely commission Matthew for any further projects if we have the need."


"I have had the pleasure of being represented by Ms Lisa Riley. Lisa helped me in December 2020 when I was charged. Lisa was extremely supportive, reassuring, and preserved with her investigation of the laws and was able to save me from a terrible outcome. Another incident occurred in August 2021 in which I sought Lisa’s help. Lisa preserved and was very patient with me. This only got resolved this year. When she advised me that she was leaving her old firm, I insisted that she remain my lawyer, as I had the utmost faith in her. Hence I moved over to HHG. Lisa took no shortcuts in my defence and continued to preserve for the toxicology report that ultimately saved me. She kept me up-to-date with the progress and provided support. Having someone as understanding as Lisa was a huge gift, to me and my family. You have gained a huge asset in Lisa joining your firm.

Thank you, Lisa, forever grateful for your work, and if ever needed, I will be sure to refer to you"


"We can highly recommend HHG Legal Group and particularly Mr Blair Campbell (Special Counsel / Dispute Resolution)

Blair worked with us as we navigated a very difficult third party dispute.

Blair’s expertise, wisdom, and the way he guided us in a very measured and calm manner gave us great encouragement and comfort. Blair helped us to focus on what we needed to and to trust the process.

Blair was always responsive to us, he always got back to us very promptly to answer our questions and to help us to step through some really hard days.

We are very grateful for Blair’s expertise and wisdom along with his empathy and care, this truly made the difference for us."

Wayne and Janice Belcher

Preferred office location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.