Here are the facts about legal measures which could protect you from domestic abuse…
Where a client is at risk of domestic abuse our advice will almost always be that an application for a non-molestation order should be made. Where the parties live in the same house the application may be made alongside an application for an occupation order so that the other party is not allowed to re-enter the property.
You can apply for a non-molestation order against an “associated person”; this includes spouses, ex-spouses, civil partners, ex-civil partners, cohabitees, former cohabitees, various family members and persons with whom you have, or have had, an intimate relationship for a significant duration.
In urgent cases, for instance if the applicant is in immediate danger, it may be possible to obtain such an order ‘without notice’. Where an application is made on a ‘without notice’ basis a hearing takes place before the other party is aware that an application has been made. If the application is successful, the court will make an interim non-molestation order.
Commonly, a non-molestation order will prevent the other party using or threatening violence against the applicant, or intimidating, harassing or contacting (directly or indirectly) the applicant.
Where one party wishes for the other to leave the family home, or where they have been refused access to the property by the other, an application for an occupation order can be made. The court has a wide range of powers when considering an occupation order application. These include excluding one party from the property, allowing the applying party the right to remain in the property or part of the property and regulating both or either of the parties’ occupation of the property. Occupation orders can also be made against the applying party’s family members.
Such applications can be made initially ‘without notice’. However, such applications are only likely to be granted in exceptional circumstances, given that they effectively deprive a person of their home without the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against them. If the application is successful an interim occupation order will be made. This must be served upon the other party and is usually effective until the parties return to court. The second hearing is usually listed a few days after the first.
The court will take a wide range of factors into account when deciding whether to make an occupation order; the court will not make an occupation order solely on the basis of an unpleasant atmosphere in the house.
The factors the court considers include, but are not limited to:
1. The housing needs and housing resources of each of the parties and any relevant child or children;
2. The parties’ respective financial situations;
3. The likely effect of either making or not making an order on the health, safety and wellbeing of the parties or any child;
4. The conduct of the parties.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.