If you or someone you live with is suffering from abuse, you can gain some legal protection from your abuser by applying for an injunction. In UK family law, we call these ‘non-molestation orders’ or ‘occupation orders’.

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What is an injunction?

In family law, an injunction is a court order that requires someone you are associated with to do or not do something. There are two main types of injunctions you can take out under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996:

  • A non-molestation order.
  • An occupation order.

A non-molestation order aims to prevent your current or former partner/spouse from threatening or using violence against you or your child. The order also aims to stop any harassing or intimidating behaviour. Its ultimate purpose is to protect your health, safety and well-being, as well as that of your children.

An occupation order determines who can live in the family home. It can also mean that your abuser is in breach of law if they enter the area nearby.

Do you feel unsafe living with your partner? Or have you left home because of violence? If either of these things are true in your case, and you want to return to the property but exclude your abuser, you may wish to apply for an occupation order.

What happens if my abuser breaches the order?

If your abuser breaches a non-molestation order, they will be committing a criminal offence and you can get the police involved. However, you may still wish to take your abuser back to the civil court for breaking the order, if you prefer to do so.

If you already have an occupation order, a breach of that may mean the offending person could be arrested.

Am I eligible to apply for an injunction?

To apply for an injunction, you must be an ‘associated person’. This means you and your abuser must be connected with each other in at least one of the following ways:

  • You are or were married to each other.
  • You are or were in a civil partnership.
  • You live with each other or used to live together.
  • You live or used to live in the same household.
  • You are blood relations.
  • You are engaged to be married to each other (even if the engagement ends).
  • You have children together – this may include those who are parents of the same child, as well as those who have parental responsibility for the same child.
  • You are in an ‘intimate relationship of significant duration’.
  • You are both taking part in the same family proceedings (e.g. custody or divorce).

The Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 amended the Family Law Act to include same sex couples. This means that people who live together are able to apply for occupation orders and non-molestation orders, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

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I'm not eligible to apply for an injunction, what can I do?

If none of the above criteria apply to you, then you may not apply for an injunction under the Family Law Act. However, if someone continually pesters, harasses, stalks or threatens you after your relationship ends, you may apply for a civil injunction (restraining order) under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

How long does the injunction last?

Injunctions are normally valid for a specified period of time, although you can apply to renew them. However, you can also apply to make the injunction period ‘until further order’ which effectively makes the injunction period indefinite.

There is no limit to the length of time that you can extend non-molestation orders. You cannot extend occupation orders beyond 12 months if your abuser has a legal right to stay in the home.

I want to get an injunction, what should I do?

To apply for an injunction, you will have to go to ‘closed’ court. This means that only those directly involved with your case will be in court.

The types of solicitors available through First4Lawyers have years of experience in domestic violence and other abuse cases. We are here to help you assess your options and bring about the protection you and other members of your household may need.

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