There is approximately one domestic violence call to the Police every minute in the UK and many victims find themselves frequently harassed by their abuser.
However, the Courts do offer protection in the form of non-molestation orders and occupation orders so that victims need not live in fear of more violence or threats - particularly as it's a criminal offence to breach an Injunction.
Legal-advice.com has access to expert family law barristers who understand what you are going through and are able to use their knowledge to advise and support you throughout the process of applying for an injunction.
What is an injunction?
Injunctions are there to offer you protection from your abuser. They are court orders that require someone to do (or not do) something in particular. The two main injunction types available under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996 are:
- A non-molestation order - prevents your partner, former partner or associated person from being violent or threatening violence towards you or any children. It also prevents intimidation, harassment and pestering (including in-person or remotely by letter, email, phone or social media) so as to ensure your - and your children's - safety.
- An occupation order - defines who can live in the family home. It can also prevent your abuser from being in the surrounding area. You can also get an occupation order if you have left home because of violent behaviour but want to return without your abuser living there.
Under recent changes to the law, breaching a non-molestation order is now a criminal offence and a power of arrest is automatically attached to the injunction, meaning your abuser can be arrested simply for breaching the injunction without needing to have committed any other criminal activity. The Order is filed with the Police so they are aware of the power of arrest and can exact it should any breach arise.
Who can apply for an injunction?
So that you can apply for an injunction you must be an 'associated person'. This means that you and your abuser must be associated with each other in one of the following ways:
- You are/have been married to each other.
- You are/have been in a civil partnership with each other.
- You are/ have been cohabitants (this includes same-sex couples).
- You live/have lived in the same household.
- You are relatives.
- You have formally agreed to marry each other (even if that is no longer the case).
- You have a child together (either parents of the same child, or have parental responsibility for the same child).
- You are not living together but have/have had an 'intimate relationship of significant duration'.
- You are both involved in the same family proceedings (for example divorce or child contact arrangements)
If you are applying for an occupation order, you must either have a legal right to occupy the home in question (as a joint or sole tenant or owner), or you have to be or have been married to or living with a partner who is the owner or tenant.
Obtaining a non-molestation or occupation order
In order to have a non-molestation order made against your abuser, you must apply to the Court with a sworn Statement to support your allegation of domestic violence. Your partner or former partner will be notified of the application and you both need to attend a Court hearing. Provision can be made for protection whilst at Court which is known as special measures.
If they admit the allegations against them (or fail to attend) then the appropriate Injunction Order is made, usually lasting six or 12 months - but this can be longer or 'until further notice' in some cases. Once expired, an application can be made to renew the Injunction Order if necessary.
If the respondent denies the allegations or is not willing to leave the property, the case goes to a Contested Final Hearing where the Judge will decide whether to make the non-molestation or occupation order, or to dismiss the application altogether.
Getting a non-molestation or occupation order ex-parte
If there is a risk that notifying your partner or former partner of the application could induce more violence or intimidation, then it is possible to apply 'ex-parte' without notice. This means your abuser is unaware of the application until it is served on them - at which point it comes into effect.
Once this is in place, there then needs to be a Court hearing which you both attend so that the Judge can either make the appropriate Injunction or dismiss the application.
Legal-advice.com know how serious domestic violence is and can assist in making emergency applications to the Court for Injunctions in appropriate cases. Our sympathetic and understanding team of solicitors have the complex legal knowledge necessary to handle your case and will put your right to safety first.