Published on December 17, 2022

The information contained in this article offer a legal checklist in the area of domestic abuse. It is important to say that if you are reading this and are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask to speak to the police.

The Family Court has the power to make a “Non-Molestation Injunction” which is an order of the court usually prohibiting the following:

Using or threatening violence;

A person from contacting the applicant;

A person from going to a home or within 100 metres of a home.

In order to make an application in the Family Court, the Applicant must be “related” in some way, for example married, previously co-habited, parent of a child together, parent, son, aunt, uncle, grandparent etc. Family Non-Molestation Injunctions cannot apply to parties who are not related such as neighbours or former friends.

Domestic violence and a legal check list. Preparing information on a PC and a notebook.

If there has been a recent serious threat or if there has been recent violence (there is no time limit on what is regarded as “recent”), a party can apply for what is known as an emergency injunction without notice to the other party of the hearing. When dealing with an emergency injunction the court is unlikely to challenge or question the evidence of the applicant. If an order is made there is likely to be a review hearing one or two weeks later when the court will reconsider the matter. This will give the opportunity for the other party to make representations as to why a Non-Molestation Order should not continue. However, at the review hearing often the other party does not attend.

Breach Of A Non-Molestation Injunction

Breach of a Non-Molestation Injunction is in itself a criminal offence for which a person could be punished by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years. The difficulty, however, is that the police seem extremely reluctant to take action in respect of a breach of a Non-Molestation Injunction.

Non-Molestation Injunctions are usually made for 6 months or a year. If, however, there is a breach of a Non-Molestation Injunction during the period when it is in force, it is possible to apply to the court to extend the period of the injunction.

Occupation Orders

Occupation Orders are orders which regulate whether a person can occupy a property when they are entitled to. Often they will prohibit a party from entering or attempting to enter a property even if they are entitled to.

Occupation Orders are often made for 6 months to 1 year. During that period, parties are expected to resolve issues concerning the occupation of property. For example, if parties were married, they are expected to deal with the property and financial matters.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is available to apply for a Non-Molestation Injunction. However, it must be remembered that there are tests which an Applicant must meet:

Disposable needs should be below a certain figure;

Capital needs should be below a certain figure (equity in a home is taken into account).

Applying For A Non-Molestation Injunction

There is no court fee payable to make a non-molestation injunction. An application form must be completed and a statement must be signed by the applicant.

The statement should contain the following information;

Details of the relationship between the parties;

Details of any children;

Details of where the parties are living;

Details of the first incident of violence or threats:

Details of the worst incident of violence or threats;

Details of the most recent incident of violence or threats;

Details of any medical treatment, if any;

Details of witnesses, if any.

The above is not an exhaustive list.

Legal Aid And Other Proceedings

If a non-molestation injunction is granted, it can act as ‘gateway evidence’ for other legal services such as finance and children matters but an applicant must still be financially eligible.

Beverley Watkins is a contributor to ‘Separating With Children 101’ 3rd edition (Bath Publishing, 2023).

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The Impact On Children

It is so easy to be told that you need to put your children first when we are separating, but what does it actually mean? When your life is turmoil and emotions are running high this can feel daunting when there are so many things to think about. If you have a child with someone, then regardless of whatever you think of them or whatever they might have done, they will still have an important role to play in the life of your child. Exceptions to this are rare. Possessive language that excludes or minimises the role of the other parent can negatively impact the relationship between that parent and the child and can increase conflict and make it more difficult to co-parent. We know that conflict and/or parental absence in particular has a negative impact on children.

Parents need to create the right conditions for children to thrive.

For children, whilst separation will bring inevitable feelings of loss and change, they can still thrive if their parents work in partnership to create the right conditions. We know that children are more likely to adapt with fewer problems, and less emotional distress, when parents are able to part with compassion and continue to work together in partnership even when they are not together. On this hub you will find lots of article and tips on how to minimise the impact on children. For example; how do you set up two homes? How do you co-parent well? What does it mean to put your children first? How do you tell your child you are separating? What do I tell the school? What about holidays? And much more...

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