How can I protect myself from my partner?: Non-molestation orders & Occupation orders
Statistics covering the quarter ended September 2020 show a 26% increase in domestic violence remedies from the year before. What protection is available?
What is a non-molestation order (NMO)? An NMO is designed to stop various kinds of abusive behaviour which could involve harassment, physical, verbal and emotional abuse. They can be ordered under section 42 Family Law Act 1996 if a free-standing application is made for an order by a person associated with the respondent.
Can I get an NMO without my partner knowing? Yes. It is sometimes known as a “without notice” or “ex parte” order. If making such an order the court would list a “return date” when both parties would need to attend.
Can I get an order that excludes my partner from my home? Yes. An occupation order is another form of injunction order that regulates occupation of a property. For example, an order could permit your return if you have been excluded. It can even prohibit your partner from visiting the neighbourhood where the home is situated.
How long can these orders last? An NMO generally is designed to deal with an immediate occurrence of harassment or abuse and to reduce the temperature by prohibiting behaviour that might inflame the situation further. It is good practice for an order to stipulate its end date and that is not likely to be more than 12 months.
What if the NMO is breached? Do I have to apply to the court? No. One can simply contact the police. Breach of an NMO is a criminal offence.