Domestic violence and abuse is a crime and the law has been set up to help protect the victims of domestic violence from their abusers through a number of court orders. The Family Law Act 1996 provides for two types of court order, namely occupation orders (discussed in the previous article) and non-molestation orders to protect the victims of domestic violence from their abusers.
What is a non-molestation order?
Non-molestation orders are civil court orders granted to protect victims from domestic violence. This order prevents an abuser from molesting the victim and in cases where children are involved; it also protects children as well.
This order forbids the abuser from asking or involving others to intimidate or harass the applicant/victim. It can further be extended to forbid the abuser from damage or disposal of property.
Who can apply for a non-molestation order?
Non-molestation order can only be applied against someone who is legally associated to you. This covers people who are married or engaged to each other or are in a civil partnership with the abuser. It further covers people you could have been living with or related to or have had a child together.
You can apply for non-molestation order even if your partner has been intimidating or harassing you. However, in practice it is a lot easier to secure one if you have been subjected to violence.
You can further apply if you can prove a vital, intimate personal relationship with the abuser, which is usually demonstrated by a sexual relationship of at least six months.
What are the effects of a non-molestation order on the abuser?
If you obtain a non-molestation order then your abuser is subject to it. This means if he breaches the terms of the order then he/she can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence. The maximum penalty for breach of this order is up to five years of imprisonment.
How can I obtain a non-molestation order?
Applications for non-molestation orders are often made ‘on notice’, which means your abuser will be aware of the application against them. However, if you fear that the notification may prompt further abuse or violence, then it is possible to apply for a non-molestation order without informing the abuser. This is known as making an application ‘ex-parte’. However, it should be noted that the application does not become effective until it is served on your abuser. In that case, there will often need to be a second hearing later on with both the applicant and abuser present to allow the abuser a chance to respond and challenge the order.
We at Sabeers Stone Greene LLP can assist you in making this application to a civil court or a magistrates court through the assistance and legal advice from our experienced family law solicitors. We try our best to make this process as less stressful as possible.