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Non-molestation Orders & Occupation Orders

When couples separate, whether through divorce, civil partnership dissolution or an unmarried relationship break-up, they often find it difficult to agree who will stay in the house and who will leave. In fact, quite a lot of the time, both parties end up staying in the home they shared when they were still a couple.

This can be a very difficult time as the relationship is already breaking down and living with the other person and still seeing them every day can be particularly stressful. It can also negatively impact any children living in the property, causing them a great deal of emotional distress. During relationships, especially when relationships are ending, couples argue. Sometimes these arguments can lead to violence which most people would recognise as domestic abuse. However, domestic abuse isn’t just about physical abuse. It can also be psychological, financial, sexual and emotional abuse.

If you find yourself in this situation and believe you are suffering domestic abuse, it is advisable to get independent legal advice to understand what your options are. You have a number of remedies available to you under both criminal and civil law. Because it falls under criminal law you can go to the police for immediate help and you should do this immediately if you believe you or your children are in danger. Specialist solicitors, such as Austin Kemp, can advise you how to proceed and will discuss with you whether the other party needs to be removed from the home.

What is an Occupation Order?

Victims of domestic abuse who meet government-set requirements can apply for an occupation order. The order will say who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.

You can apply if:

  • you own or rent the property and it is, or was intended to be shared with a husband or wife, civil partner, cohabitant, family member, person you’re engaged to or parent of your child
  • you do not own or rent the home but you’re married or in a civil partnership with the owner and you’re living in the home (known as ‘matrimonial home rights’)
  • your former husband, wife or civil partner is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared matrimonial home
  • the person you cohabit or cohabited with is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared home

What can an Occupation Order be used for?

If you would like the other party to leave, or, alternatively, where you have been told that you cannot get into the property by the other party, it is possible to get an occupation order through a court. The court can not only force one party to leave but can also rule that a party has the right to stay in the house or part of the house.

It is worth noting that these orders can also be used against family members, not only ex-partners.

In certain circumstances, particularly with regard to domestic abuse, it is possible to get your application to court on the same day that you come to see us. The application can be done, in exceptional circumstances, ‘without notice’ to the other party. This means that the other party will not be aware of your application and if successful the court will grant an interim occupation order. The other party can challenge the order once both parties return to court, usually a few days later.

What are Non-molestation Orders?

If you are being subjected to domestic abuse one of the things we would advise you to do is to obtain a non-molestation order which will enable you to prevent the abuser threatening you or your child. This will generally stop your abuser from contacting you or going to a particular location. You are able to apply for a non-molestation order against a range of people who are close to you from cohabitees to ex-spouses or civil partners or even some family members. We can discuss other options with you if you have a less close relationship with the person who is abusing or harassing you.

In certain circumstances, particularly if you are in danger, it is possible to get your application to court on the same day that you come to see us. The application can be filed, in exceptional circumstances, ‘without notice’ to the other party. This means that the other party will not be aware of your application and if successful the court will grant an interim non-molestation order.

The court has quite a large discretion when it comes to what molestation actually means because the law has mainly been guided through case law. The court will consider all circumstances including the wellbeing of the applicant and any relevant child. Normally a non-molestation order will prevent someone contacting you, attending your home, intimidating or harassing you or using violence against you.

It is common for this order to be used together with an occupation order so that the abuser cannot enter your home.

When you go to court you will be allowed to have your legal representative with you but no-one else who is not concerned with your case will be let in. This means that there are no members of the public in court which is good for your privacy.

If the other party breaches the non-molestation order this is a criminal offence and you can contact the police who will come and arrest them.

High Net Worth Clients

We have a large amount of experience in such situations and particularly specialises in representing high net worth individuals. Our solicitors understand how difficult such a situation can be and will handle your case with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.

Equally, if you have been served with an application for an occupation order then we are able to provide you with expert legal advice regarding your position and how best to proceed, whether the order has been served without your notice or whether you have a court date for the first hearing. It is very important to seek independent legal advice as soon as this happens to you.

When the court is looking at granting an occupation order it will take certain things into account such as the parties’ financial situations, the conduct of the parties and the housing needs of the parties and any children. If there are periodic heated arguments in front of any children this may be all a judge needs to make an order.

Occupation orders rarely last longer than a few months and are only meant to be a short term solution.

We can guide you through this process at what can be a particularly difficult and stressful time in your life. Our team of lawyers are experienced in dealing with domestic abuse and harassment and will advise you of your rights and discuss with you how you would like to proceed.

Domestic Violence Law: Contact Our Family Lawyers

Austin Kemp can guide you through the occupation and non-molestation orders processes at what can be a particularly difficult and stressful time in your life. Austin Kemp’s solicitors are experienced in dealing with domestic abuse and harassment and can talk you through the options available to you in law. Seeking specialist legal advice as soon as possible will mean that you can better protect yourself and your family. We particularly specialise in representing high net worth individuals and understand the need for sensitivity and discretion in these matters. Contact our local lawyers today for further information and support.

 

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