Domestic violence and harassment are sadly far more common than most people imagine. Manifestations of such abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual and can occur once or be sustained over a period of time. It is an issue that the law takes extremely seriously. Where a client is at risk of such abuse our advice will almost certainly be that an application for a non-molestation order should be made. In cases where the parties live in the same house, the application may well be combined with an application for a possession order so that the other party is not allowed to re-enter the property.
Equally, even when not living together, one or other party to the relationship may be experiencing abuse or harassment and need protection. This can reach a crisis point around the breakdown of a relationship and special care will need to be taken at that point.
The application can be made initially ‘without notice’ where the court considers it just and convenient to do so. Without notice, applications are commonly made when the applicant is in immediate danger. Where an application is made on a ‘without notice’ basis a hearing takes place before the other party is aware that an application has been made. If the application is successful the court will make a time-limited, interim non-molestation order.
As there is no statutory definition of ‘molestation’, case law is relied on for guidance. It includes violence and threats of violence but is not limited to such acts. The courts are required to consider all of the circumstances of the case including the need to secure the health, safety, and well-being of the applicant and any relevant child. Commonly, a non-molestation order will prevent the other party:
- Using or threatening violence against the applicant, or instructing or encouraging a third party to do so;
- Intimidating or harassing the applicant, or instructing or encouraging a third party to do so;
- Contacting the applicant, directly or indirectly; and
- Attending the applicant’s property or work address.
If you are interested in discussing possession matters & orders please contact Ella L. J. Bernhard