Domestic abuse can include physical, financial, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse.
The term domestic refers to those in an intimate relationship including partners, cohabitees and family members.
Domestic abuse can also include controlling and coercive behaviour such as isolating someone from their family and friends and trying to control what they say and what they do.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and you are in urgent need of help, you should call the emergency services on 999 immediately. However, there are also alternative ways the law can protect you.
The family Court can offer protection in the form of non-molestation and occupation orders.
A non-molestation order is used to prevent someone using violence, threatening violence or molesting a person or a child.
Examples of molestation are:
- writing on social media;
- harassment; and
- persistent text messaging or telephone calls.
Non-molestation orders can also exclude a person from a particular place such as the victim’s home address or their workplace.
If a non-molestation order is breached it is a criminal offence punishable with up to five years imprisonment.
An occupation order either excludes a person from a property or enables a person who has been excluded to return. As with non-molestation orders, to make the application you must be an ‘associated person’. This includes family members, partners, friends and cohabitees.
To determine whether an order should be made the Court use the “balance of harm” test.
The judge will weigh up which party is likely to suffer greater harm should the order be made.
The Court will also consider the following to assist in determining whether an order is necessary: –
- needs of the parties;
- the conduct of the parties;
- the financial resources available to both parties; and
- the likely effect of the order on the health, safety and wellbeing of the applicant and any child.
An occupation order is a temporary measure and orders are made for up to 6 months. Orders can be extended where necessary until permanent measures are put in place.
It is possible to apply for a non-molestation or an occupation order urgently and without notice.
These orders are known as ‘ex-parte’ and are used in cases where if the perpetrator was aware of the application, this could put the victim or a child at serious risk of harm. Without notice and urgent applications are used in the most serious of cases to protect the vulnerable from imminent harm.
For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you to talk through your options and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.