Occupation Order: Protection for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Request a call from a family law solicitor

Consent

What is an Occupation Order?

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, at any point in their lives. One of the main concerns a victim of abuse will have after leaving an abusive relationship is keeping themselves and their families safe from harm.

Fortunately, there are a number of of Court Orders that a victim can apply for, including a Non-Molestation Order and an Occupation Order.

divorce solicitors

An Occupation Order can be put in place to exclude an abuser from the victim’s family home. It can force the abuser to move out and/ or stay a certain distance away from the home. The power to make an Occupation Order is stipulated in sections 33 and 35 to 38 of the Family Law Act 1996.

In some cases, the order may stipulate the the abuser is required to stay in a specific part of the home at certain times. In some circumstances, it will order an abuser to allow access to the home if they have locked the victim out. It may also order the abuser to continue paying rent, mortgage and/or bills on a home.

Occupation Orders can also be made by the Court under under resources of the Family Law Act 1996 to determine who is legally entitled to occupy a home following the breakdown of a relationship if couples are unable to agree.

Regardless of the situation, the effect of any Order regarding occupation of the home will be short-term and will not determine the final outcome of a property following a divorce or relationship breakdown.

An Occupation order can also be used by an applicant to enforce their right to remain in the home or obtain permission to enter and remain in the home.

Occupation Order – FAQ’s

Who can an Occupation Order be made against?

A victim of domestic violence will be entitled to apply for an Occupation Order against anyone they are associated with who has harmed, or posed a risk of harm towards them. An associated person can include:

  • Someone the victim is/was married or engaged to (or in a civil partnership)
  • A cohabitant or former cohabitant of the victim
  • Someone sharing a matrimonial home with the victim
  • Someone the victim is/was sharing a household with, for example a flatmate; however this does not include borders, lodgers, employees or tenants
  • A relative of the victim, whether by cohabitation, marriage, civil partnership, or by blood
  • Someone the victim has a child with
  • Someone the victim shares/shared parental responsibility for a child with
  • Someone the victim is/was in an intimate relationship with for a significant period of time
How to make an application for an Occupation Order

For parties to apply for an Occupation Order, they will need to fill in a FL401 form. A witness statement will also need to be written by the victim or their solicitor setting out the details of the situation and what the victim wishes to achieve by obtaining an order.

This should be sent to the court for an order to be made. The application can be made with or without the abuser being present, and the application can be made against them without notice.

If an order is made without notice, the court may arrange a further hearing, which both the victim and the abuser will be required to attend, to allow the alleged abuser to present their side of the story. At this point, the judge will consider whether the order should be continued or extended.

Protection provided by the order will only be put in place when the abuser becomes aware of the injunction made against them. It is the responsibility of the victim or their solicitor to make the abuser aware of the injunction by serving it upon them.

Will the Court always grant an Occupation Order to victims of domestic violence?

When making a decision on regards to granting an Occupation Order, the Court will generally apply two tests, the “balance of harm” test and the “core criteria” test. These tests will look at housing needs and resources of the parties and any children involved, details of financial resources, conduct of all parties and the effect that the granting of the Order is likely to have on the health, safety and well-being of any party, applicant or relevant child.

If the Court believes any applicant or child is in immediate danger, an Immediate Order may be made; however, this is usually in extreme circumstances as the Court prefers to allow all parties to be heard before making such an order.

What happens if there is a breach of an order?

If a party breaches an injunction, such as an Occupation Order made against them, you will be required to enforce in injunction, which means asking the court to take further action.

When enforcing an occupation order, the process will depend upon whether a power of arrest is afforded to the order. If there is a power of arrest attached, the abuser can be arrested if they are in breach of said order. To have the abuser arrested, the victim should call the police.

If there is no power of arrest attached, the victim can make an application to the court to have the abuser arrested and/or punished for the breach.

How can Expert Family Law's panel of solicitors assist?

Our panel of family law solicitors will ensure you get the best advice and will ensure you are made safe from your abuser as soon as possible. We can assist by obtaining the right court order or injunction as well as assisting in divorce, child arrangements and ancillary relief.

We understand that being a victim of domestic abuse can be extremely distressing. We ensure that the domestic abuse solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist throughout your family proceedings. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a family law solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

Do I need to pay for a domestic abuse solicitor?

Legal Aid is often available to help fund domestic abuse cases. You should discuss fees with your solicitor; but in some circumstances, if Legal Aid is not an option for your case, your domestic abuse solicitor may agree to take on your case on a no win, no fee agreement. Others may charge a fixed fee for their work. Fees will always be discussed and agreed with you, prior to the initiation of your case.

I am being accused of domestic abuse, what should I do?

If you are facing allegations of domestic abuse, a solicitor can help you consider the following and can provide assistance with:

  • Deciding upon your living arrangements
  • Protecting you from further allegations
  • Protecting your rights and preserving your interests to the family home
  • Ensuring appropriate contact arrangements can take place between yourself and your children
How can Expert Family Law's panel of domestic abuse solicitors help?

Our panel of domestic abuse solicitors will ensure you get the best advice and will ensure you are made safe from your abuser as soon as possible. We can assist by obtaining the right court order or injunction as well as assisting in divorce, child arrangements and ancillary relief.

We understand that being a victim of domestic abuse can be extremely distressing. We ensure that the domestic abuse solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a family law solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

Services

Divorce Proceedings

Ancillary Relief

Domestic Abuse

Child arrangements

Expert Family Law

Keep up to date with the latest family law news

Newsletter