If you are or have been in an abusive relationship (either physical or emotional) or have suffered abuse from a family member then it is possible to obtain a Non-Molestation Injunction to prevent further abuse.
Who Can Seek a Non-Molestation Injunction?
To seek a non-molestation order, the person against whom the order is made must be a connected person, that is (i) a spouse or civil partner (ii) a cohabitant or former cohabitant, (iii) someone you have lived with in the same household (except where you are employees, tenants, lodgers or borders), (iv) a relative (including in-laws and relatives of half-blood) (v) a fiancé/fiancée or former fiancé/fiancée, (vi) someone you have a child with, (vii) someone you are in family court proceedings with, or (viii) someone with whom you had an intimate relationship with for a significant duration. If the degree of relationship does not fall within any of those categories, then you can still obtain an injunction however this would be under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 (not dealt with in this article).
What Protection Does it Offer?
The terms of a non-molestation order can prohibit the other party from using or threating violence, or from pestering, harassing or intimidating you (either by themselves or by encouraging/instructing others to do so). It can prohibit forms of communication such as text, telephone, email etc. and can also include the prohibition on damage to property. It can also provide a zonal exclusion order which prohibits the other party from coming within a specified distance of a property in which you are living. A zonal order is unlikely to be made when you are still living with the other person however the court has the power to make an occupation order against that person.
How long will it last?
A Non-Molestation order may be made for a specified period or until a further order is made. The length of the order will depend upon the extent to which the terms of the order affect the respondent. If the order can be broken easily in the course of their day-to-day life, then the court will be keen for the duration to be limited. If the order only has an impact upon the respondent if they actively seek to break it (and the court consider this likely), then the court may be minded to grant it for a longer, or indefinite, period of time.
What’s the process?
The court can make such an order without notice to the other party to provide immediate protection to you and will then list the matter for a further hearing (often within a short space of time). If the allegations are disputed, then the court will list a final hearing and prior to the hearing the parties will provide detailed statements containing the allegations and any evidence in support (police records etc.)
Quite often at the return date hearing, the parties will try to reach an agreement as to how the proceedings shall be resolved. Depending on the severity of the allegations an undertaking in identical terms to the order may be a suitable way forward however this does not come with a power of arrest and therefore a breach is enforced differently.
If the order does continue and the other party is in breach, then this constitutes a criminal offence and the other party can be arrested. If found guilty they can be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
We often advise parties in relation to non-molestation injunctions so if you would like to discuss a non-molestation injunction with one of our team in confidence, please contact us to book an appointment.