Freedom from inhumane or degrading treatment and torture is a basic human right. A person’s health, safety and well-being should always be protected, especially when in an abusive relationship.
No matter what your relationship to an abuser, protective orders can be issued which place different restrictions on their behaviour based on what they’ve been doing to you.
These could include stopping the abuser from using or threatening violence, communicating with you by any means, or from coming within so many metres of you, your home or workplace.
A non-molestation order is a civil court order that is put in place to protect victims of domestic violence from being abused. This is a legal injunction made under the Family Law Act 1996 which means, if breached, the abuser will be arrested and could face a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Whilst the term “molestation” is not specifically defined, it can cover many different types of violence, threats, intimidation and harassment.
Changes under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 have also meant that a non-molestation order can include extended legal protection to any relevant children or people associated with you that are named in the official document.
Who can apply for a non-molestation order?
A non-molestation order can only be used against someone that you know in certain ways. This could be:
⦁ Someone you were married or engaged to be married to,
⦁ Someone you were in a civil partnership with or were going to enter a civil partnership with,
⦁ A person you were living with as though you were husband and wife (including same sex relationships),
⦁ Someone you have a child with or who has had parental responsibility for your child at some point,
⦁ A family member or relation, or
⦁ Someone you have had an intimate relationship with for a significant period of time.
Serving a non-molestation order
If you feel you or your children may be in immediate danger because of an ex-partner or family member’s threats or behaviours, do not hesitate to contact your family solicitor about an emergency non-molestation order.
You can make your application to the court on the same day without the abuser (the respondent) being there. The court will consider:
⦁ Whether or not you are at risk of significant harm,
⦁ Whether you may be prevented or deterred from applying if you are made to wait, or
⦁ Whether the respondent is avoiding being served their notice to appear before the court.
If the court grants you a without notice order, they will most likely want to list the details for a full hearing at a later date once the abuser has been served notice.
A copy of your application for the non-molestation order, as well as your witness statement, must be delivered to the person named in your application. You can do this in person if you wish or, if doing this would put you in danger, your solicitor can do this for you.
The court hearing
The hearing for your non-molestation order will be held in private, with just you and the respondent there. Once all the evidence has been heard, the court may ask you for further information, lay out what restrictions will be placed on the abuser, then grant an injunction for a set amount of time.
When the order expires, the court will decide whether to renew it, or you can apply again.
If the abuser breaches the non-molestation order
Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence. That means, if they break the rules it in any way, you can report them to the police.
They may be tried for the offence in either magistrates’ court or Crown Court, with the maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
If you do not want to bring the case to a criminal court, you can apply to the court that made the order for the abuser to be arrested. If the court agree the abuser has breached the order, they could be given a fine, given a suspended sentence, or sent to prison.
For professional legal advice and support regarding your non-molestation order application and any other concerns you may have, please call 03330096275 to speak in confidence with one of the UK’s leading family law firms, Ashmans Solicitors.
You can also use our free online enquiry form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.
The service we offer to you is as individual as you are. Due to each matter being different and everyone having different needs and requirements, we know how important it is that you have a law firm to represent you that you can trust to act for you as an individual and not just as a case.