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Family law | Legal Guides

If one person in a relationship is being threatened or abused by another, he or she can seek protection from the Court.

For more information, please click on the links below.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is the physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse of one person by another within a close, intimate or family relationship.

Domestic violence can affect a diverse range of victims and perpetrators, including spouses, children, parents or partners.

Who can seek protection?

The following people may apply for orders under the domestic violence legislation:

  • Spouses may seek protection from each other;
  • Members of a cohabiting couple, who are not married but living together, may seek protection from each other. A court can only grant a Safety Order if the victim and perpetrator lived together for six months in the 12 months before the application was made. The Court can grant a Barring Order if the victim and perpetrator lived together for six months in the nine months before the application was made.
  • People living in the same residence may seek protection from each other. However, if the Court finds that a contractual relationship existed between the two people, it will not grant a barring order. The only option available in this case is a Safety Order.
  • Parents may seek protection from a child who is over the age of 18 year.
  • Parents may seek protection on behalf of a child.
  • The Child and Family Agency may seek protection on behalf of a person, and/or that person’s dependent children, if he or she cannot apply.

If an alleged perpetrator owns a joint place of residence, or has greater ownership rights than the person seeking protection, the Court will not grant a barring order against him or her.

What protection can be given?

The Court can provide four different types of protection:

Barring Order

A Barring Order forces the alleged perpetrator to leave the family home. It also prohibits him or her from any further acts of violence, threats of violence, and from watching or being near the family home. A Barring Order can be granted for up to three years.

Interim Barring Order

In exceptional circumstances, the Court can grant an Interim Barring Order while a person waits for a full hearing on a Barring Order. This requires the alleged perpetrator to leave the family home immediately.

Protection order

A Protection Order is a temporary Safety Order, granted when a person applies for a Safety Order or a Barring Order.

The Protection Order lasts until the full court hearing on the application for a Safety Order or a Barring Order.

Safety Order

A Safety Order prohibits a person from using or threatening violence against another person, or doing so towards that person’s children.

If the alleged perpetrator does not live with the victim, it will bar him or her from watching or being near the victim’s home. However, it does not oblige the alleged perpetrator to leave the family home.

A court can grant a Safety Order for up to five years.

Penalties for breaching orders

Anyone who contravenes a Safety Order, Barring Order, Interim Barring Order or Protection Order is guilty of an offence.

Those offences are punishable by a Class B fine (up to €4,000) and a prison term of up to 12 months.

Useful links and resources

If you are concerned about domestic violence, you can contact An Garda Siochána. Members of An Garda Siochána are specially trained to assist people in this situation.

Citizens Information Centres can provide information about organisations that support victims of domestic violence, depending on your circumstances.

You can find out more about domestic and sexual violence, as well as local and national support services, from the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (Cosc).

  • Visit the Cosc website