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Being the victim of domestic violence is frightening, and something that we, as a firm, see far too many cases of. Please know that you are far from alone and far from powerless. At OTS Solicitors we will provide advice on how to obtain non-molestation and occupation orders, so you and your children can live in your home and go about your day to day life without fear.
Domestic violence is sadly very common and can happen to anyone, regardless of religion, race or socio-economic status. According to Refuge, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
Domestic violence can take many forms, including:
- pushing, punching, shoving, hitting and other acts of unwanted physical force
- sexual violence such as rape or forcing someone to perform sexual acts they are not comfortable with
- controlling, coercive behaviour, for example, isolating a person from family and friends, putting them down, refusing to allow them access to money, controlling what the wear and who they see
- stalking and harassment
How we can help
Cases involving domestic violence can be highly emotive, requiring particularly sensitive handling, as clients may have endured many years of abuse.
Our family law team in London is headed by Rakhi Singal. Rakhi has over five years’ experience in family law and litigation and has in-depth knowledge of domestic violence, injunctions, and emergency remedy matters.
Rakhi is a member of Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers who follow a strict Code of Practice designed to resolve family law matters in a constructive, non-confrontation manner. Resolution members also campaign for improvements to the family justice system.
Your safety comes first
As professional solicitors, our number one priority is your safety and the safety of your children. If we believe you should apply for a non-molestation order exparte – meaning it will be granted urgently and confidentially (until notice is served on the respondent) - then we will advise you accordingly.
Because Rahki and her team have such a solid reputation for providing exemplary family law service, we have built up trusted relationships with counsellors and other support organisations, whom we can refer you to if required.
How the law can protect victims of domestic violence
If domestic violence has occurred, you can apply to the court for an injunction to protect you and your children. The most common type of mandatory injunction in domestic violence and abuse cases is a Non-Molestation Order and/or an Occupation Order.
A Non-Molestation Order is designed to protect you from actual or threatened physical violence from your abuser. Your abuser will also be banned from stalking or pestering you. The protection offered by a Non-Molestation Order against domestic violence can be extended to your children.
An Occupation Order may give you the right to occupy the property you shared with your abuser, and restrict or prevent your abuser from entering the home.
To apply for a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order, you must be an “associated person.”
This means you and your partner or ex-partner must be related or associated with each other in one of the following ways:
- are or were ever married or engaged to be married
- are or were ever in a civil partnership or had agreed to form a civil partnership
- are or were living together (this includes same-sex and opposite-sex couples)
- live or have lived in the same household, for example as a flat share (but not as a tenant, border, lodger or employee)
- are relatives, including parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews or first cousins (whether by blood, marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation)
- have a child together
- have or had parental responsibility for the same child
- are parties to the same family proceedings for the same child
- are or were in an intimate personal relationship of significant duration
To apply for an Occupation Order, you must have a legal right to live in the home.
Applications for Occupation Orders and Non-Molestation Orders can be made either with or without the respondent’s knowledge (known as ex-parte or on notice). If you are in immediate danger, an application made ex-parte can provide protection more quickly than if the application were made on notice. If an ex-parte application order is granted, it will only take effect after the respondent receives it. This is to ensure that they do not unknowingly breach a court order. A court hearing date with both parties’ present will be set. This is known as a return date, and it is to allow the respondent to raise a defence against the order being made.
It is less common for an Occupation Order to be made ex-parte. An occupation order restricting a co-owner's proprietary rights is sometimes seen as a draconian remedy, and the Courts have emphasised that it is only to be used as a remedy of last resort. Therefore, it is imperative to instruct an experienced family solicitor to advise you on the best way to apply to the court for an Occupation Order.
Courts will normally make the hearing of Non-Molestation and Occupation Orders a priority; hearings are normally held within a few days.
We understand that applying for injunctive relief against an abusive partner is highly stressful. You can rely on us to manage the process for you in a compassionate, professional manner, ensuring the safety and best interest of your children are our first priority.
Penalties for breach of a Non-Molestation or Occupation Order
It is a criminal offence to breach a Non-Molestation Order and can lead to up to five years in prison. Breaching an Occupation Order is not a criminal offence; however, the court can attach a power to arrest when granting the order.
If you believe your Non-Molestation or Occupation Order has been breached, it is best to call the police immediately. Our team can provide emergency assistance when required, to apply to have an injunction order enforced.
For a more detailed discussion regarding getting an injunction, or to book an appointment with a member of our family law team, please call us now on 0207 936 9960.