24 May 2019

People should feel safe in their own home, but tragically many don’t

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You can get some protection with the support of Connaught Law from your abuse by applying for a civil injunction such as a Non-Molestation Order, Restraining Order etc. Such preventative orders provide injunctive relief and are designed to prevent someone from doing something.

There are two main types of injunctions available under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996:

  • A non-molestation order
  • An occupation order

Non-Molestation Order

A non-molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner or a former partner from using or threatening violence against you or your child(ren), or intimidating or harassing you directly or indirectly.

A non-molestation order can only be used against someone that you are associated with in one of the following ways:

  • By marriage, civil partnership or engaged to be married or were married or were going to enter into a civil partnership.
  • You are or were living with as husband and wife including same sex relationships
  •  A family member or relation.
  • Someone you have a child with or someone who has had parental responsibility for your child.
  • Someone you have had an intimate relationship with for a significant period of time.

Non-molestation orders are normally for a specified period of time. There is no limit on the length of time that non-molestation orders can be extended.

If you or your children are in danger you can apply for a non-molestation order ‘without notice’ – without telling the other person (known as the respondent). It is very important to speak with an experienced family law solicitor.

What conditions can be applied to an Order?

Conditions of orders can include forbidding a named person to:

  • Use or threat violence against a named person
  • Threaten, intimidate, harass, or verbally abuse a named person
  • Go to a specified address or a within a certain distance from it
  • Contact the named person in any way directly or indirectly
  • Send any threatening or abusive letters, text messages, voice mails or any form of social media messages
  • Make any threatening or abusive telephone calls to a named person

For the order to become enforceable it must be served on the other person / abuser first (respondent). A copy needs to be given to the local police too so they know that it exists.

What happens if the person breaks the conditions?

It is now a criminal offence for the respondent to break a condition or conditions of the non-molestation order.  So a breach or non-compliance with a non-molestation can either be dealt in the Family Court or within the local Criminal Court; a Magistrates Court.

Occupation Order

An Occupation Order determines who should stay and who should go and prevent the excluded person from the surrounding area.

If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you can apply for such an order.

In addition to the above list, an Occupation Order can be obtained against a person who lives in the same household as you.  You can also obtain an order against someone whom you have already started family court proceedings, for example, this includes someone that you have already got a Non-Molestation Order against.

Who can apply?

To get an order you must be able to show that you are legally entitled to stay in the property. You can apply if:

  • you own or rent the home and it is, was, or was intended to be shared with a husband or wife, civil partner, cohabitant, family member, the person you’re engaged to or parent of your child
  • you do not own or rent the home but you’re married or in a civil partnership with the owner and you’re living in the home (known as ‘matrimonial home rights’)
  • your former husband, wife or civil partner is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared matrimonial home
  • the person you cohabit or cohabited with is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared home

An order will normally for a specified period of time such and it is possible to renew it.

You must arrange for a copy of your application and witness statement to be ‘served’ on the person named in the application. This means making sure they get a copy of the documents in person.

Connaught Law can arrange this for you or you can ask the court to serve the documents on your behalf; there will usually be a fee for this.

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