Injunctions

During a relationship, or after a separation, you may need to protect yourself, your children or your property from your spouse or partner, or even a member of the extended family.

You can apply to the court for a non-molestation order, often called an injunction order, to protect yourself and your children and an occupational order to protect your home. These orders are made for a specified period of time during which longer-term arrangements can be made.

Non-molestation order
This order forbids the other person (the respondent) from acts such as:
• Using or threatening violence
• Coming within a defined distance of your home
• Contacting you by any means, including letter, telephone text or through social networks

In an emergency situation an application can be made without the respondent being aware of the application. However, when the case is due to go to court, the respondent will have to be personally served with the application and any order made.

NOTE: The order will not be in force until it has been personally served on the respondent

If your circumstances are less urgent, the application is personally served on the respondent before the first hearing. As long as the respondent has been served, the judge can make an order, even if they are not present.

If the respondent disagrees with the application, a contested hearing will be held. The respondent must then file a statement setting out their case and at the hearing both parties and any witnesses give evidence. Any order made must be personally served on the respondent. A non-molestation order is often made for several months and can be extended if necessary. It is a criminal offence to breach the order which could result in up to five years in prison.

Occupation order
This order can be used to remove the respondent from the family home or to prevent them from coming within a defined distance of the home. The type of order will depend on the relationship between both parties and whether one or both of them own or rent the property. Occupation orders are rarely made without the respondent being given notice of the application. They are made for several months and must be personally served on the respondent.

Enforcement of occupation order
The judge must attach a power of arrest to an occupational order unless they are satisfied that the applicant would be adequately protected without it. It is a criminal offence to breach the order which could result in up to five years in prison.

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