Non-Molestation Orders: Protection for Victims of Domestic Abuse

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What is a Non Molestation Order?

Under the Family Law Act 1996, victims of domestic abuse and people who are being threatened or harassed can seek a Non-Molestation Order. This is a court order with the purpose of protecting victims. It does this by “prohibiting a person (the respondent) from molesting another person who is associated” with them or “a relevant child” (s. 42 (1) Family Law Act 1996). 

Although there is not a definition of ‘molestation’ in the legislation, previous case law has shown that the term could cover any behaviour which could be “properly regarded as such a degree of harassment as to call for the intervention of the court” (Horner v Horner, (1982))The court have been aware of not setting strict criteria for ‘molestation’ because if they did this they could exclude some victims of domestic violence. Therefore, each Non-Molestation Order can be different and prohibit different behaviours.

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Who can apply for Non-Molestation Orders? 

The court can make an order if the respondent is an associated person to the applicant. This includes: 

  • People who are or have been married to each other
  • People who are or have been civil partners to each other
  • People who are cohabitants or former cohabitants
  • People who lived in the same household, other than as a lodger
  • Family members s e.g. father or mother
  • People who have agreed to marry
  • People who have an intimate personal relationship for a significant duration
  • People who entered into a civil partnership agreement
  • People who are parties to the same family proceedings
  • In relation to a child, the respondent must be the parent of the child or have parental responsibility 

The family court can also make a Non-Molestation Order in other proceedings if they think that it would be of benefit to a party or relevant child.

Non Molestation Orders – FAQ’s

How do I apply for a Non Molestation Order?

Individuals can apply for Non Molestation Orders online. The application is free to complete and a supporting statement should be attached. Once the application has been received by the court, a hearing will be arranged. At the hearing the court will decide whether to grant the order or not. 

If the order is required in an emergency, this should be stated on the application. The order will be granted ex parte at a hearing, this means without the other party’s notice. Though, the respondent will have to be informed of the orders existence after the hearing.  In most cases, the emergency order will last until the date of the official hearing.

How long do Non Molestation Orders last?

This is decided on a case-by-case basis and the court have the discretion to make orders for a specified time or indefinitely.  However, good reason would have to be provided for an order to be made on an indefinite basis.

How much does a Non Molestation Order cost?

As mentioned above, a Non-Molestation Order application is free to complete.

Nevertheless, it can often be helpful to seek legal advice to ensure that the application is completed correctly and all of the relevant documents have been attached.

Some individuals are eligible for legal aid which entitles them to free legal advice and assistance from a solicitor. Check your eligibility here.

How does the court decide to grant a Non-Molestation order?

When considering the application for a Non-Molestation Order, the court will analyse all of the circumstances, “including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of (a) the applicant and (b) of any relevant child.” (s.42A Family Law Act 196). 

Once this analysis has been done, the court will be able to come to a judgement.

How is the Order enforced?

Section 42A of the Family Act 1996 discusses how a Non-Molestation Order can be enforced. 

Breach of a Non-Molestation order is a criminal offence. If the applicant believes that the respondent has breached the terms of the order, they are able to call the police. The police officers can then arrest the respondent. Though the respondent and the police officers must be aware of the order for an arrest to take place. 

If in court the respondent is found to have breached the order, the maximum sentence this carries upon indictment is 5 years in prison, a fine, or both. Upon summary conviction, the respondent can be imprisoned for up to 12 months and receive a fine, or both.

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.

How can Expert Family Law's panel of domestic abuse solicitors help?

If you have been a victim of domestic violence or an associated person to you is threatening violence, you can seek a Non-Molestation Order. For your peace of mind, it can be helpful to seek legal advice. Though we understand that navigating the legal industry to locate the perfect solicitor can be difficult.

 

To relieve you of this stress, we are able to locate a solicitor for you, tailoring their skills to your needs. This often alleviates pressure from you because you can trust that your case is in reliable hands.

 

To find out more about how our team can help you and your case, please contact us via using the form at the top of the page.

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