If you have been subjected to domestic cruelty, you may wish to apply for a civil injunction or protection order to gain protection from an abuser. An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do or not to do something. One main type of injunctions is a non-molestation order.
Briefly, a non-molestation order is a court order in England and Wales aimed at preventing your partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you or your child. This would include any intimidating behavior such as harassment and pestering which threatens the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children. By way of example, nuisance telephone calls or text messages would come within the ambit of ‘Molestation’. A breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.
An occupation order would be an appropriate medium of protection if you consider yourself unsafe living with your partner, perhaps due to being subject to acts of violence and consequently you may have left home but want to return and exclude your abuser. In this way the order regulates who can live in the family home, and come within the surrounding area.
Whichever order is necessary the courts will offer substantial protection. It is worth noting however, that such orders may not work for everyone the same way and in some such cases it may even be counter productive. The courts do require that there has been a sufficient level of harassment to warrant an intervention order. The abuser must have acted deliberately so as to harass the applicant.
To apply for an order, one must be an ‘associated person’ or associated with the abuser in one of the following ways:
⁃ Civil partnership;
⁃ Cohabitation or former cohabitation of (inc same sex cohabitation);
⁃ Living in the same household;
⁃ Relative (blood or otherwise);
⁃ Persons with parental responsibility for the same child;
The criteria is potentially very wide and include persons of ‘an intimate personal relationship’ which was of ‘significant duration’.
The Order can contain one or both of the following provisions:
In deciding whether to grant a non-molestation order, the courts must have regard to all of the circumstances of the case, with the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of both the applicant and any relevant child being of paramount importance.
The courts have discretion and flexibility to make an order for a specified period, or until the court makes another order. This seeks to accommodate complex cases.
Injunctions are normally for a specified period of time (e.g. six months) but can be renewed; or they may be made ‘until further order’. There is no limit on the length of time that non-molestation orders can be extended.
As mentioned earlier, a breach of a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence and in the event that a prosecution occurs, likely sentences include imprisonment, being fined, or even both.
If you have been affected by any of the information discussed above, and would like legal advice contact our Family Law solicitors on (0116) 2999 199