Non Molestation Order

Separation and divorces may often not be the end of a relationship and may just be the start of many orders such as a non molestation order, occupational or even child arrangement orders. You may feel that you have seen the end of your former partner, but this is not always the case. Quite often ex-partners can be jealous or simply abusive or controlling. You may be forced to take action of any negative behaviour from your ex-partner. Our family lawyers consider below an example of where the behaviour from an ex-partner can get out of hand.

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What is a non molestation order?

A non-molestation order prohibits a person from molesting the person who is applying for the order. In family law matters non-molestation orders are used to stop your ex-partner from harming you or threatening you with harm.

Non-molestation orders are commonly used in domestic violence cases. However, these orders also extend to cases of:

  • Acts or threats of violence,
  • Use of abusive language,
  • Physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse and harassment,
  • Stalking, or
  • Abusive messaging whether this is text messaging or through social media messaging.

A non molestation order not only provides protection to the victim but empowers the victim with a sense of control in relation to actions which are uncalled for from their abuser.

Which laws govern non molestation orders?

Non molestation orders are governed by the Family Law Act 1996. Under section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996 a non molestation order means an order containing either or both of the following:

  • Provision prohibiting a person (respondent) from molesting another person who is associated with them, and or
  • A provision prohibiting the respondent from molesting a relevant child.

Under the act the court may make a non molestation order:

  • In an application for the order has been made by a person who is associated with the respondent; or
  • If in any family proceedings to which the respondent is a party the court considers that the order should be made for the benefit of any other party to the proceedings or any relevant child even though no such application has been made.

What are examples of molestation?

By obtaining a non molestation order, the court specifies that a respondent cannot do or take certain actions. These actions would ordinarily amount to molestation. Examples of molestation are constantly approaching the victim, acting in a threatening manner, using violence or abuse towards a victim, attending the property of the victim. Molestation also covers other general behaviours which amount to harassment or cause distress to a victim. These could include unwanted and frequent contact with the victim by way of social media, text messages, telephone calls, emails or through the post.

Who can apply for a non molestation order?

In order to apply for a non molestation order you have to be an associated person of the respondent. In order to satisfy this requirement one of the following must apply:

  • You have or have been married to or civil partners of each other or have agreed to marry/enter into a civil partnership.
  • You have cohabited together
  • You have lived in the same household in a family scenario
  • You have had an intimate physical relationship of significant duration
  • You are parties in the same family proceedings
  • In relation to a child, you are both parents, or have had parental responsibility.

A child who is victim of molestation can also apply to the court. They will need the courts permission to apply if they are under the age 16. The child must live with or be expected to live with either party, or be a child whose interests the court considers relevant. In most circumstances, children’s applications for a non molestation order are usually bought as part of a global application for protection, however these can also be bought in their individual right.

How do you apply for a non molestation order?

If you are suffering from abuse or harm and you can satisfy the above requirements, then you will be able to apply for a non molestation order. In order to apply for an order you will need to complete the application to the Court.

In order to complete the form you will need to complete your details in the applicant section. You will also need to provide details of the respondent including their name and address. You will also need to specify on the application form which order you are applying for. You must also confirm whether you wish the court to hear your application with or without notice to the respondent.

The application form will also require you to confirm your relationship with the respondent and provide full details of the nature of your application and why you require the order. You will need to ensure you make 2 copies of your completed application form and write a statement to tell the court what has happened and asking for the relevant order.

You will then need to send the application form together with your statement to the court which will deal with case. If you would like further information on making an application for a non molestation order, then contact our family law specialists today who will provide you with the advice and assistance you need.

We strongly advice legal advice is obtained before completing an application to ensure your best possible chances of success. Our family lawyers often see poorly drafted applications missing key information which client’s later want to rely on but struggle to do so; Court’s will expect all key information to be included within an application. It is also therefore important that care is taken.

Can you apply for an without notice to the respondent?

In some situations you may feel that you need protection from the respondent immediately. In such a case you can ask for an emergency order. In such a situation you do not have to tell the person you want protection from that you are applying for an order. This is known as a “without notice” or “ex-parte” application.

How much does it cost to apply for a non molestation order?

An application for a non molestation order has no court fee. Therefore you are able to apply for free.

Who can a non-molestation order be applied to?

Commonly non-molestation orders apply to a partner or an ex-partner. However, they can also be used against the following categories of people:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse
  • Civil partner or ex-civil partner
  • A fiancé or ex-fiancé
  • Someone with whom you are living with or have lived with
  • The parent of your child
  • Someone with whom you have shared an intimate personal relationship, or
  • A family member.

What happens after you have applied for a non molestation order?

A non molestation hearing will usually be held in private. If the application is made without notice, then this emergency application may be heard on the same day. In most cases if notice of the application is provided to the respondent then only you, the person you are applying for an injunction against and any legal representatives will attend.

At the end of the hearing the court will make one of the following decisions:

  • The person against whom the non molestation order application has been made against will undertake (promise) to do or not do something,
  • You may be requested by the court to provide further information. In such a case you maybe granted an interim order to protect you whilst this information is obtained, or
  • Issue an order. When the order ends another hearing maybe held to decide on whether the order will need renewing.

What happens after a non molestation order hearing?

Following on from the court hearing, you must arrange for the non molestation order to be served on the respondent. This is to ensure they get a copy of the order in person. You can either ask the court to serve the documents or in the alternative you can serve the documents your self providing this will not cause you any harm or put you in danger.

IF you personally chose to serve the documents then you must also complete a statement of service. This will need to show how and when the documents were served. This form will then need to be submitted to the family court.

The order together with the statement of the service must also be taken to the police station which may be named in the court order. Our family lawyers in Northampton as well nationally are able to assist you ahead of hearing.

When does a non molestation order come into effect and how long does it last?

A non molestation order will only come into effect once the person whom it applies to has been served with the court order. This is because the courts want to ensure the other party has knowledge of the non molestation order and its existence.

A non molestation order can run for a fixed period as decided by the family court or alternatively can last indefinitely. Quite commonly a non molestation order will continue running until either it is cancelled by the court through the making of another court order. In cases concerning children an order may continue until a final child arrangements order is made.

It is important to note that a victim of molestation can ask the court to extend a non molestation order before it expires if the victim feels they need to continue with the protection.

What do I do next after receiving a non molestation order?

When you have been served with a non-molestation order you should consider when the nest hearing is. The initial order may have been granted without notice to you as the other party may have advised the court that you may cause issues with regards to the hearing. The next hearing will provide you with the opportunity to challenge any allegations made against you and present your side of the story together with any evidence you may have.

It is extremely important that you enquire about the next hearing if you have not been provided with any details. You must remember that the court is permitted to make orders in your absence. Failure to attend a subsequent hearing could mean you lose your right to challenge the non-molestation order against you and present your evidence. This would therefore mean that the non-molestation order will continue to be in force until stated by the court.

Consider seeking early legal advice

Obtaining early legal advice in non-molestation can be beneficial. Family solicitors are well equipped to review the non-molestation order and understand your side of the story and your evidence. You will be surprised to know that a legal professional can provide tailored advice and guidance on how to respond to such applications. This will allow you to prepare ahead and understand the law and the issues you are dealing with.

Consider your options

You may be disappointed with your ex-partner or a family member for obtaining a non-molestation order against you. You may also have feelings of anger and may feel that the non-molestation order is based on lies. When you have received the non-molestation order you should carefully consider whether you should challenge this order. If you successfully challenge an order you will have the opportunity to clear your name against any lies or false information against you. However, this could create further animosity which may not be ideal if children are involved. Challenging a non-molestation order can also be challenging and add financial pressure.

When served with a non-molestation order you also have the options of not opposing the order or alternatively agreeing to the undertakings on the basis that the allegations against you are not accepted. This option negates the need for a contest and could show the court you are not there to prove the applicant is a liar.

How to defend a non molestation order?

If you are wanting to challenge the non-molestation order against you, you will need to provide evidence to support your case. You will usually need to challenge the applicant’s witness statement and any other evidence they have such as reports from professionals such as medicals and the police. Although the court requires the applicant to prove their case, you will still be required to challenge their evidence and allegations and presenting your own evidence. You will therefore carefully need to consider what evidence you have or what evidence you can obtain. At Kabir Family Law, our specialists can provide guidance on the type of evidence you will need in your individual circumstances and provide you with the likely prospects of succeeding in your challenge.

What to consider when defending a non molestation order?

Before defending a non molestation order it is extremely important to consider what this will achieve. Our family law specialists understand that many respondents feel angry and aggrieved when they see that someone has taken out a court order against them on the basis of lies. As a result of this some respondents will simply want to defend an order on the basis of not wanting the applicant to win.

Successfully defending an order will not make other people aware that the applicant was lying or using false information. It can create animosity between the parties which can be unhelpful if children are involved. This may children to have negative feelings of their parents. Defending an order may also add pressures of both time and money. Instead, a respondent can either not oppose the order or agree to undertakings (which is a promise to the court not to do things) on the basis that they do not accept the allegations that have been made against them.

Comply with the terms of the order

It is important that whilst the matter is ongoing you comply with the terms of the non-molestation order. If these terms are not complied with whilst the matter is being considered this will create a poor impression to the judge. Failure to comply with the non-molestation order will also result in a breach of an order. A breach of a court order is considered to be very serious. Failure to adhere to the court order could lead to either criminal proceedings or civil proceedings by applying to the court that made the order. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence. This could lead to a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine.

In civil proceedings the court who made the non-molestation order can order you to be prisoned, fined or a given a suspended sentence.

What to do where there is a non molestation order breach?

If there is a breach of the non molestation order and you fear for your safety or the safety of others around you then you should contact the police. Where there is a breach of an order or if the order carries a power of arrest the then police will usually arrest the abuser. The abuser will then be bought in front of the court.

If there are no powers of arrest then you will have to go back to the court yourself. By breaching a court order the abuser is in contempt of court for disobeying a court order. The court has the power to either fine your abuser, impose a suspended sentence or commit them to prison. The court is also likely to add a power of arrest to the injunction in order to strengthen it in future.

Arrange a free consultation to before applying for a non-molestation order today

Non-molestation orders will require careful consideration when applying for or responding to. A poorly prepared application could result in an unsuccessful action and in some circumstances lead to a cost order.

You should try and put aside emotions to ensure you adequately consider how to respond to such an order. Contact us on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.