What is an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)?

Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)

By cropped david wu

· Read time: 4 minutes

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) is a legal order implemented to guarantee the safety and security of individuals under specific circumstances. They are made for situations where protection is need from another member of the family – typically a spouse or partner.

In New South Wales, the most common form of an AVO is an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). Typically, applications for apprehended domestic violence orders are primarily initiated by the New South Wales Police in conjunction with criminal charges.

If you are under the threat of violence from somebody you are in a domestic relationship with then you and/or the police can instigate an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO).

An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order is an enforceable court order that restricts the actions of a person who is violent or abusive towards you. Normally the restrictions simply raise the penalties of any criminal violence committed against you.

However, an ADVO can also restrict the person’s movements or compel the person to seek counselling. The magistrate at court can vary the orders to suit each individual’s circumstances. 

Notably, for an ADVO to apply the person you are seeking it against needs to be someone you are in a domestic relationship with. This includes: 

  • If you are married;
  • If you are in a de-facto relationship;
  • If you are in an intimate personal relationship; 
  • If you are currently, or have previously lived in the same house; 
  • If you are in a relationship of care (unpaid or paid) where one party cares for the other or;
  • If you are relatives. 

If your relationship does not meet the above criteria, you can instead apply for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO). 

How do I obtain an ADVO? 

There are two ways to obtain an ADVO. Firstly, you can make a private application to your Local Court. This involves explaining to the court your reasons for needing an ADVO. Expect to tell the court details regarding what has happened to you recently or why you are feeling threatened.

You may want a lawyer to represent you if you are making a private application.

The second way you can obtain an ADVO is by reporting the violence to the police. The police can make an application on your behalf. Notably, in some instances, where police believe there to be family violence they may be able to make an ADVO on your behalf even without your consent.

Here, you are not required to have a lawyer as a police prosecutor will represent you at court.

If you are in immediate danger the police may also apply for an interim ADVO. An interim ADVO will last until your case is properly assessed in court. 

What happens in court? 

When you make an application for an ADVO in court there are several possible outcomes. If the defendant consents to the orders OR they are served the orders but do not appear at court it is likely the Magistrate will grant you an ADVO.

If the defendant has not been served, the matter is adjourned until the defendant is served. Finally, if the defendant appears but contests the facts of the application then the Magistrate will likely proceed your case to a hearing. 

At the hearing, you will have to present evidence about why you are scared and the details of violence which have been perpetrated on you.

The Magistrate will decide ‘on the balance of probabilities (i.e. is it more likely than not) if your fears are reasonable. If your fears are found to be reasonable on that basis, you will likely be granted an ADVO. 

Once granted, ADVOs will last a set time period (usually around 2 years). You can apply to extend the ADVO if you are nearing its expiry date and you are still scared for your safety. 

What Orders can be given? 

Every ADVO comes with a set of ‘mandatory orders.’ These include that the defendant must not:

  • Assault or threaten;
  • Stalk, harass or intimidate; 
  • Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property of;

you or anyone in a domestic relationship with you. 

In addition, the ADVO can also enable other orders restricting them from: 

  • Approaching you;
  • Contacting you; or
  • Living with you. 

These orders will be subject to your circumstances and what the Magistrate believes is appropriate to protect you. 


ADVOs can help protect you and your loved ones from domestic violence. If you believe you need an ADVO to speak to the police or a lawyer. A lawyer can help advise you on your options as well as prepare you for any hearing you may have to attend.

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