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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.
Forbes has an expert team of family law solicitors 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Forbes Solicitors know how serious domestic violence is and can make 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.
Legal Aid is usually available and eligibility can be assessed at the initial appointment. We also offer tailored and fixed fee services dependant on your needs.
A non-molestation order aims to prevent your current or ex-partner from using violence against you or your children to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing. This also includes preventing intimidation, pestering or harassment.
An occupation Order is when the Court decides who should and should not live in the family home. This Order can also take the person out from the home and from an area around the home. Sections 33 and 35 to 38 of the Family Law Act 1996 contains the power to make an occupation order.
The applicant can ask for a Non-Molestation Order to be extended before the current order expires, if they feel they require further legal protection. If the order has expired already, a new application will be needed.
A Non-Molestation Order without notice can be used if notifying your partner or ex-partner about your application is likely to induce violence or intimidation. This way, they won't be informed until the order is already in effect.
A Non-Molestation Order is usually served in person to the respondent, no less than two days before a court hearing that they are required to attend. At this hearing, the appropriate Injunction Order is made, unless a contested hearing is required.
If you disagree with a Non-Molestation Order against you, it might be possible to challenge it in court. It's recommended that you take expert legal advice if you wish to dispute a Non-Molestation Order and they can assist with the process.
Challenging a Non-Molestation order can be complex and early legal advice is always recommended. Disputing a Non-Molestation Order will require evidence to be gathered and presented to the Court, who will then decide if the order should remain in place or be lifted.
A Non-Molestation Order is usually granted for a period of six or 12 months initially and an extension to this can be applied for as long as the original order has not yet expired. If the order expires, a new application will need to be made.
A Non-Molestation Order hearing will only involve the applicant, the person subject to the order, the legal representatives of both parties and the judge. The judge will consider all statements and evidence before making a decision on whether to grant the order.