Cross Applications in DV Proceedings – A Changing Landscape


In Queensland a respondent to an application for a Domestic Violence Order (‘DVO’) may choose to bring a Cross Application which involves the respondent bringing their own application for a DVO against the applicant of the original application.


The decision to make a cross application in domestic violence proceedings has always been one which should not be made without significant consideration. In the past parties have had to be aware of and consider:


  • The high emotional and financial costs involved in such an application;
  • The risk of validating the original application;
  • Potential loss of the moral high ground;
  • An increase in forensic complexity; and
  • A chance to lose the ability to obtain costs.


Recent amendments to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 require even greater caution when considering a cross application.


The New Singular Order Scheme


Under the amended Act, applications and cross applications must now be heard together. This additionally applies for applications and cross applications to vary DVO’s.


Most significantly, the Act has been amended to provide that only one protection order should be in place unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.


Courts must now identify, when assessing an application and cross application together, the person who is ‘most in need of protection in the context of the relationship as a whole’. It is this person ‘most in need of protection’ who should have their application for an order accepted and made.


In deciding the person ‘most in need of protection’ the court must consider the following factors:


  • The history of the relationship and domestic violence between the parties.
  • The nature and severity of the harm caused to each other.
  • The level of fear experienced by each person because of the other’s behaviour.
  • Which person has the capacity to (i) seriously harm the other; or (ii) to control or dominate the other and cause them to fear their safety or wellbeing (or that of their child, another person or an animal).
  • Whether the parties have characteristics that may make them particularly vulnerable to domestic violence.
    • Examples given by the act include: women; children; Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples; peoples from a culturally or linguistically diverse background people with disability; people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex; and elderly people.


As stated previously, the Court is now only allowed to make one order to protect the person who is identified as ‘most in need of protection’, unless in the case of exceptional circumstances. The amended Act considers exceptional circumstances to occur where there is ‘clear evidence that each person is in need of protection from the other’.


Effect on Current Orders


Notable among the amendments is the insertion of section s41G(2)(d) which states that:


(2) The Court must decide-

(d) if the other application is an application for the variation of a protection order – to vary the order by reducing its duration so that the order ends.


This is notable as a reading of this provision would indicate that if a circumstance existed where two people had domestic violence orders on each other, and an application and a cross application to vary were made, one side would, outside of exceptional circumstances, see their protection order ended.


Potential for Cost Orders


The newly amended Act additionally now enables the Court to make a costs order against an applicant or cross-applicant whose application has been dismissed, where the application itself is considered, by the Court, to be part of a behaviour constituting Domestic Violence. This potential for a cross-application to attract a unfavourable costs order is an additional important consideration which must now be considered before making a cross application.




In conclusion, this new protection order system has again significantly changed the landscape in regards to cross-applications. It is now, more than ever, important to obtain legal advice before making a cross application. A misguided cross application is likely to fail, will strengthen the original application and even lead to cost orders being made.


Robertson O’Gorman Solicitors provide expert advice and representation to both Applicants and Respondents in domestic violence proceedings. Our criminal defence background also enables us to carefully monitor and safeguard against the risks of police investigations or criminal prosecutions arising from these proceedings.