At AFG LAW our Domestic Abuse solicitors meet people who have heard of Non-Molestation orders and think it could help them, people who may been advised by a support organisation or social services that they need to get a Non-Molestation order and some people who don’t know what protection might be available but know that they are being affected by domestic abuse. It is also not uncommon for us to meet people who say they want a divorce or to sort out the arrangements for their children but when we talk about what has led them to reach out to a solicitor it becomes clear they may benefit from applying for a Non-Molestation order. Our approachable solicitors regularly help people from different walks of life secure the protection they need.
What is a non-molestation order?
A Non-Molestation order is an order made by a Judge in the Family Court. It is designed to protect the person who has applied for the order against the person who is subjecting them to domestic abuse. The order can do this in a lot of ways including:
- Stopping someone from using or threatening violence
- Stopping someone from intimidating, harassing or pestering the other person
- Stopping someone from contacting or trying to contact another person including by telephone, text, email, social media or any form of electronic communication
- Stopping someone from damaging, attempting to damage or threatening to damage any property owned by you or in your possession
- Stopping someone from damaging, attempting to damage or threatening to damage the home or the contents of the home
- Stopping someone from entering or attempting to enter the home, going within 100 metres of the home or the road the home is on
- Stopping someone from going near a school, nursery or somewhere else that the children attend
How do I get a non-molestation order?
Non-Molestation orders can only be granted by a Judge once an application is made to the Family Court. You must make an application to the Family Court along with a detailed statement, this is a really important document and our experienced solicitors will explain to you what needs to be included.
The person who you want protection from needs to know about the application and must be personally served. Our solicitors have good working relationships with process servers across the North West who can make sure that this happens and doesn’t cause delays with your application.
Sometimes applications are made without telling the person who you want to be protected from, this is done when there might be a greater risk to you if they found out you were going to make an application; or, if they knew an order was likely to be made, they might ‘disappear’ to make it harder to serve them with the order. Our domestic abuse solicitors will always discuss making the application on a ‘without notice’ basis to see if this is the course of action you need to take to ensure you are kept safe. Non-Molestation orders are extremely serious and if you are making an application without telling the other person then the court will look at this carefully. If the Respondent is not aware of the application for a non-molestation order, because the application has been made ‘without notice’, then the Judge at the first hearing may make an order in their absence but will list the matter for an urgent hearing to allow the other person to attend the court at the earliest opportunity and confirm their position.
Following the first court hearing, the court can decided to do one or more of the following:
- A Non-Molestation order may be made
- The matter might be listed for an urgent ‘return date’ inviting the Respondent to attend so they can set out their position
- The proceedings might be listed for a final hearing where evidence must be given by both people. Directions might also be given for police disclosure, medical evidence or witness statements from other people who can give evidence to help the court make a decision about whether an order is made.
- Undertakings may be given
Our solicitors will always make sure that people feel supported during non-molestation order proceedings, we have produced a guide explaining the support that can be given during court proceedings.
Can I apply for a Non-Molestation order?
You have to be ‘associated’ with the person who has made you want to seek a Non-Molestation order. This is specifically defined in the Family Law Act 1996 but covers most ‘family relationships’ such as being married or a civil partner, a parent and a child, having a child together etc. The list can be quite complicated but our domestic abuse solicitors can take you through it and explain how it applies to you.
- You are or have been married
- You are or have been civil partners
- You live or have lived together/cohabited
- You live in the same house and aren’t a tenant, lodger, boarder or one of you is the other person’s employee
- You are related
- You are or have been engaged and broke off the engagement within three years
- You are or have been in a civil partnership agreement and broke off the agreement within three years
- You are or have dated for a period of time and have been in a significant intimate relationship but haven’t lived together
- You have a child together or share, or have shared, parental responsibility for a child
- You are parties to family proceedings
If you aren’t associated with someone but still believe you need an order you may be able to get protection through the Protection from Harassment Act.
Do I have to go to court for a Non-Molestation order?
Yes, but support can be put in place to help you engage in the proceedings and give the best possible evidence. Our guide about support for people during court proceedings provides more details
Once I have a Non-Molestation order will the police help me?
Yes, once a non-molestation order has been made, and served upon the other person, a copy of the Non-Molestation order and statement of service are sent to the police so they are aware of the order and have proof the other person knows what they are not allowed to do. A breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence and if someone breaches an order by doing something they are not allowed to do they can be arrested. Once an order has been made if the other person does anything they are prevented from doing you must ring the police straight away.
Our family team can help you with a full range of legal services.