Frequently asked questions

I am a victim of domestic abuse and am considering applying for a court order. Do I need to tell my ex-partner beforehand?

No. The courts allow for applications for injunctions (Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders) to be made ‘without notice’ where appropriate. This means that you could apply for the order that you are seeking and if the court is satisfied on the basis of your application and statement that there is a risk to you or to any child of the relationship or that notifying the other person in advance would lead to either them trying to avoid the order or that you may be put off applying, then the court will make the order without the other person being aware of it.

I have obtained a ‘without notice’ order, should I now till tell the other person?

Yes. For a ‘without notice’ order to be effective and for its terms to be enforceable by the courts and the police, the person whom the order is made against must be made aware of the order and its terms. The court’s are increasingly flexible about how this is done and each case will depend on the circumstances. Some cases will involve a process server physically giving the order to the other person, others may be sent via email or even WhatsApp.

I have had a ‘without notice’ order made against me. Is that the end of the matter or do I get to respond?

When a court makes a ‘without notice’ order, it will usually also list what is called a ‘Return Hearing’ which is to take place about two weeks after the order is first made. You will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations at that hearing. If you receive a ‘without notice’ order you should seek legal advice as soon as possible as these are very serious orders which can also affect any future proceedings regarding your children.

What is a Non-Molestation Order?

A non-molestation order is an order prohibiting a person (the respondent) from molesting another person who is associated with the respondent or a relevant child.

What does the court look at when considering whether to grant a Non-Molestation Order?

Three principles will be considered by the court when deciding whether to grant the order: there must be evidence of molestation going on; the applicant or child must need protection and the Judge must be satisfied that judicial intervention is required to control the respondent’s behaviour.

What could amount to molestation?

Molestation has been held to include the following: vexatious communications by telephone/post; acts and threats of violence; rifling through the applicant’s handbag and personal belongings; writing abusive letters and shouting obscenities; filling car locks with superglue; posting information on social media about a child and recording the other parent at child contact handovers.

Can you obtain a Non-Molestation Order against a mother-in-law/father-in-law?

Yes, you can. An order can only be granted to protect a person associated with the respondent or a relevant person. The definition of associated persons includes a relative. A mother-in-law/father-in-law is a relative and therefore an associated person for the purposes of an application for a non-molestation injunction.

How do I apply for a Non-Molestation Order?

An application for a non-molestation order should be made to the Family Court. The application is made on Form FL401, which must be supported by a witness statement verified by a statement of truth.

No court fee is payable in relation to an application for a non-molestation order.

How long can a Non-Molestation Order be put in place for?

A non-molestation order may be made for a specified period or until further order.

Can a Non-Molestation Order be varied or discharged?

Yes, it can. An application can be made by an applicant or respondent to vary, extend or discharge an order. This can be done using Form FL403.

What happens if the respondent breaches a Non-Molestation Order?

A respondent commits a criminal offence if they do anything prohibited by the non-molestation order without reasonable excuse.

In respect of orders made without notice, a respondent can only be guilty of an offence if they were aware of the existence of the order at the time of the alleged conduct.

What is an Occupation Order?

An occupation order is an order conferring, declaring, restricting or regulating rights of occupation in the family home between parties who are in, or who have been in, certain categories of relationship.

How do I apply for an Occupation Order?

An application for an occupation order should be made to the Family Court. The application is made on Form FL401, which must be supported by a witness statement verified by a statement of truth.

There is no court fee payable in relation to an application for an occupation order.

What does the court look at when considering whether to grant an Occupation Order?

The court is to have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the following: the housing needs and housing resources of each of the parties and of any relevant child; the financial resources of each of the parties; the likely effect of any order, or decision not to exercise powers, on the health, safety or wellbeing of the parties and any relevant child; the conduct of the parties; the nature of the parties’ relationship and the particular level of commitment involved in it; the length of time during which they have cohabited; whether there are or have been children who are children of both parties or for whom both parties have or have had parental responsibility; the length of time that has elapsed since the parties ceased to live together/marriage or civil partnership was dissolved or annulled and the existence of any pending proceedings.

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