Non-Molestation Orders and seeking the protection of the Court
29 April 2019
What is abuse?
To be granted protection of the courts under a Non Molestation Order, a person will have to show that he or she has been subject to abuse from the person whom they are seeking the order against. This does not always mean physical abuse but can fall under harassment or coercive, controlling or threatening behavior from a partner or ex-partner.
The court will look at many factors and conclude whether the Applicant is at risk of harm from the Respondent.
The meaning of harm simply means ill-treatment or the impairment of health, ill-treatment including non-physical abuse.
If you feel like you have been (or are being) subject to abuse, your first port of call would be to contact the police if you feel in danger. Often many people who are subject to abuse have already had the police involved and often feel there is no-one else to turn to. A Non-Molestation Order grants the Applicant the protection of the court from your abuser. A breach of a non-molestation order carries the full penalty of law and is a criminal offence.
What are Non-Molestation Orders?
Many Non-Molestation Orders are made what is called “without notice”. This is when someone makes an emergency application without notifying their abuser or them being present. This ensures the protection of the injunction can be granted immediately and stand in the meantime while the application progresses through the court.
Non-Molestation Orders are determined by s62.(3) Family Law Act 1996 and can be made against partners, ex-partners, family relations, people who have lived together or have children together.
The court will look at the circumstances of the case and in particular:
- Whether there is any risk of significant harm to the Applicant or relevant child unless the order is made immediately;
- Whether the Applicant will be deterred or prevented from making an application;
- Whether the Applicant will be prejudiced by not granting the order immediately (such as the Respondent deliberately evading service).
A Non-Molestation Order ensures your abuser will not be able to contact or attempt contact with you by any means or get someone else to do so on their behalf. Non-Molestation Orders also often prohibit the Respondent from coming within a certain distance of your home, place you are staying or place they believe you might be staying.
The courts apply what is called a “balance of harm” test to determine who will suffer the most harm if an order is not made. Once the application has been granted the Respondent will be served with the order. Once served, the order will remain in place until a return hearing is set and the Respondent will be given the opportunity to present his case to the judge. Often at return hearings the Applicant will be excused from attending so they will not have to face their abuser in court. If they are required to attend, reasonable measures are put into place to ensure you do not come face to face with your abuser. This can be by secure separate rooms, privacy screens in court amongst other things.
Often the thought at taking court action against your abuser can be a daunting, but at Curtis Law Solicitors we take you through each step and make the court process smooth and straightforward.
If you have been subject to abuse by your partner and would like confidential advice, please get in touch on 01254 297 130.