Non-Molestation and Residence Orders
Find out how our team of family lawyers can support you with a non-molestation or residence order.
What types of injunctions are used in Family Law?
In threatening or violent cirumstances, injunctions can be granted to protect victims of abuse. Injunctions are ordered by the Court that require someone to do (or not do) something in particular. The two main injunction types available under the Family Law Act 1996 are:
A non-molestation order which prevents your ex-partner or associated person from being violent or threatening violence towards you or any children. Threatening behaviour also includes intimidation, harassment and pestering. This can be by any means including in person, by letter, by phone, online or social media.
An occupation order which defines who can live in the family home. This type of injunction can also be used to prevent an individual from being in the surrounding area. In some circumstances, the courts can also grant an occupation order if you have left the family home due to violent or threatening behaviour but you want to return without your abuser living there.
What happens if an injunction is breached?
It is now a criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order which means that someone can be arrested for breaching the terms of the injuction even if they haven't committed any other offences or criminal activities. A power of arrest is automatically granted and the Police will be notified about any breaches.
Who can apply for an injunction?
You need to be an ‘associated person’ to apply for a non-molestation or occupation orders. This means that you must have been associated with the abuser in some way including any of the following:
You have been or are currently married to one another
You have been or are currently in a civil partnership
You have been or are currently engaged to be married
You have lived together as cohabitants
You are relatives
You have a child together (either as parents or have been granted parental responsibility of the same child)
You are not living together but have had an 'intimate relationship of significant duration'
If you are applying for an occupation order, you must either have a legal right to occupy the home in question (as a joint or sole tenant or owner), or you have to be or have been married to or living with a partner who is the owner or tenant.
Typically, you must also include a witness statement setting out your reasons for applying for the order.
How to apply for a non-molestation or residence order
The first step to obtaining an injunction includes making an application to the Court with a sworn Statement (witness statement) to support your reasons for applying for the order. This may include a statement about your ex-partner's violent or threatening behaviour. Once this has happened, your ex-partner will be notified and you will both need to attend a Court hearing. Special measures can be taken at Court to ensure your and your child's safety and protection.
If the accused party admits the allegations against them, or if they fail to attend the Court hearing, then the appropriate injuction order is usually granted. However, if the respondent denies or refutes the allegations, the case will be progressed to a Contested Final Hearing where the judge will decide whether to grant the order or not.
What if I am worried about my partner finding out?
If there is a risk that notifying your partner or former partner of the application could induce more violence or intimidation, then it is possible to apply 'ex-parte' without notice. This means your abuser is unaware of the application until it is served on them - at which point it comes into effect.
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