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Non-molestation orders

What are non-molestation orders?

A non-molestation order (or non-mol) is one of the courts key powers in cases involving domestic violence. The order prevents a person from harassing or threatening you. Depending on the drafting and the severity of your case, the non-molestation order can be drafted to prevent your spouse from contacting you or going near you. If the order is breached for any reason, the offending party can face significant penalties.

If you own the home in which you live, you are not married to your spouse and your spouse has no legal entitlement to the property then the non-molestation order can also stop them from coming to your home. If this is not the case, you will need to apply for an occupation order. Occupations are very similar to non-molestation orders but deal specifically with who lives in a home – if they are breached, they carry similar penalties.

What are the penalties for breaching a non-molestation order?

If a person breaches a non-molestation order, it is both civil contempt (leading to a possible fine or imprisonment) and a criminal offence. They can be immediately arrested and face up to five years in prison for such a breach.  Where a victim feels that a non-molestation order would be too strong, it is possible to agree undertakings – a solemn promise to the court. If the terms of the undertakings are breached, it remains civil contempt but is not a criminal offence.

How can i get a non-molestation order

If you want to apply for a non-molestation order, the best course of action will always be to speak to a family solicitor with experience of such orders. It is possible, however, to apply for this order online on the government website and by post.

A non-molestation injunction can be applied for without notice and on an urgent basis. If you feel at risk of imminent violence you should contact the police. Similarly, if you are concerned that a former partner will routinely breach the terms of an order, you should contact the police.

What can I do if I have been falsely accused of domestic violence?

Sometimes, malicious spouses can falsely accuse the other of domestic violence. Such allegations, and any subsequent orders, can have severe consequences.  If you are subject to a malicious allegation, it is crucial you take advice from a solicitor as soon as possible. This will ensure you are able to prevent, or overturn, a non-molestation order which states that you have abused your spouse. This will also ensure you cannot be accused of breaching an order which should not have been granted in the first instance.

I am concerned I may breach the terms of a non-molestation order

If you are subject to a non-molestation order, it is essential you receive advice from a solicitor as soon as possible. As well as ensuring that you understand the terms of the order, this advice will also ensure you do not commit any breaches. While non-molestation orders can be granted without the knowledge of the other party, they do not come into effect until that party has been served with the order. This is to prevent an individual from breaching an order they did not realise was in place.

What are common terms imposed by a non-molestation order?

Another way to prevent breaching a non-molestation order is to become familiar with the terms they commonly impose. Common restrictions include:

  • Threatening violence towards an applicant

  • Coming within a certain distance of the applicants home

  • Sending abusive texts, letters or messages to the applicant

  • Communicating directly with the applicant rather than through the medium of a solicitor

Each order will include its own specific arrangements and so, to prevent any accidental breaches, you should seek advice from a solicitor who can ensure you understand the detail of any order.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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