Domestic abuse my rights

Posted: Saturday April 21 2018

By: Vanessa Fox

Domestic abuse my rights

Should I apply for a non-molestation order?

Non-molestation orders are court orders which are designed to protect victims of domestic violence from being abused and to stop the abuser from being violent towards the victims. This is with a view to helping victims of domestic abuse of all types deal with difficult ex-partners and also people with whom they are still in a relationship. 

Anyone dealing with another person’s unacceptable behaviour, which might affect their mental or physical health, can seek an order through the family court. These orders aim to safeguard people from further abuse, whether physical, threats or intimidation.
Targets of abuse can apply for a non-molestation order against someone they are in a current or previous relationship with. This can include a married partner, a civil partner, or a same sex partner, or any other family members.

Those who fear that they or their children are in imminent danger can apply for an emergency non-molestation order for immediate protection. Legal Aid is sometimes available.

Such an order warns the other person that he or she must not breach any of the actions the order specifically forbids, or is at risk of imprisonment of up to five years and/or a fine. The behaviour depends on the specific circumstances of the case, but characteristically includes the use or threat of violence, harassment by contact or communication, sometimes damage to property.
The orders are generally granted for a set period (usually three to six months), but can be renewed or made ‘until further order’, depending on the seriousness of the case.

It is a criminal offence to disobey such an order and those who do will be arrested, if reported. Victims who wish to avoid involving the police in their family issues should bear in mind that the family court can impose short custodial sessions for breaches.
Non-molestation orders may be combined with occupation orders, which keep the other person out of the family home until finances are dealt with.

An occupation order can be obtained as a result of non-violent, non- threatening actions. One of my cases was based on persistent difficult behaviour, which involved the other person persistently turning off the hot water system, so my client could not have a hot bath to alleviate her bad back. Combined with other relatively minor unpleasant behaviours, this was sufficient to obtain an occupation order so that person had to leave the home.

Unless protection is needed urgently, it is important that anyone seeking a non-molestation order first secures the right advice from an experienced family lawyer – particularly if children are involved.