Non-molestation orders

Non-molestation orders are an effective way of protecting those who are being subjected to domestic violence. Our family solicitors at Davisons can act quickly to ensure you and your family do not suffer any further abuse.

What is a non-molestation order?

A non-molestation order is a court order made under the Family Law Act 1996. It is a type of injunction, so it forbids somebody from engaging in certain actions.

A non-molestation order can stop someone from:

  • Threatening you with physical violence. 
  • Intimidating or harassing you. 
  • Visiting you at home/place of work. 
  • Being within a certain distance of the family home, your place of work, or children’s school. 

If you have reported your abuser’s behaviour to the police, but they have not acted due to insufficient evidence, a non-molestation order can give them the power to act. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.  

Taking out a non-molestation order can also stop your abuser from encouraging others to engage in the same behaviour towards you.

How does the process for non-molestation orders work?

To apply for a non-molestation order, you need to fill in form FL401. Along with the form, you must include a detailed statement and any evidence supporting your application. Our solicitors can help you to draft a statement that clearly explains each incident that has happened, with dates and the details of any witnesses present.  

While historical evidence can be used to demonstrate that abuse has taken place over time, it is important to show the court why you are making an application at this particular moment. 

Supporting evidence may include:

  • Emails, text messages and social media messages. 
  • Photographs of injuries. 
  • Photographs of damage to property. 
  • Reports from third parties such as your GP or a domestic violence counsellor.

Once the court has received your application, they will usually notify the respondent (the person you are making the allegations against) in person 2 days or more before they are required to attend a court hearing. In some circumstances, the respondent will not be informed – see below. 

Both you and the respondent will need to attend a court hearing. Measures can be put in place to protect you throughout this process. 

If the respondent admits to the allegations against them or fails to attend court, a non-molestation will be granted. 

If the respondent denies the allegations against them, the case will go to a contested hearing. At the contested hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant a non-molestation order. 

Who can apply for a non-molestation order

You can apply for a non-molestation order if you are the victim of domestic abuse, and the abuser is: 

  • A member of your family. 
  • Somebody you are in a relationship with. 
  • Somebody you were in a relationship with. 
  • Somebody you are living with. 
  • Somebody you have lived with. 

How do you apply for an emergency non-molestation order?

If you need immediate protection from an abuser, you can apply for an emergency non-molestation order. Please get in touch with our family solicitors as soon as possible as we are here to assist you.

To obtain an emergency order, you apply in the usual way through form FL401, but when you do so, you need to request an emergency order.

An emergency order application is called ‘ex-parte’. This means that the respondent will not be notified about your application, and an emergency non-molestation order will come into effect immediately.

Once the non-molestation order is already in effect, there will be a court hearing. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether the order should remain in place or not.

How can you remove a non-molestation order?

Only the applicant (the person who applied for the non-molestation order) can apply to the court to have it removed.

If you would like to have a non-molestation order removed, you must clearly explain the reasons for your decision. The judge must be satisfied that you have not been coerced into removing the order and that it is in your best interests to do so.

How can you challenge a non-molestation order?

If you have received a non-molestation order and feel it is not justified, it can be extremely distressing. This is particularly the case if the order has been granted ‘ex-parte’, so you have not had the opportunity to defend yourself against the allegations.

It is important to seek legal advice promptly, as challenging a non-molestation order can be complicated, and it requires evidence to be presented at court. Our family law solicitors understand the hurt, anger and frustration a non-molestation order can bring as well as the fear of damage to your reputation.

When a non-molestation order is unjust, we can build a strong case to have it discharged by the court.

Have a question or need some help?

Talk to Davisons family law solicitors

Whether you are the applicant of a non-molestation order or the respondent, our solicitors know that the situation is extremely stressful for you.

We have many years of experience with non-molestation order proceedings, so we can support you to apply or defend an application.

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Non-molestation orders FAQs

What are the consequences of breaching a non-molestation order?

It is a criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order. The criminal courts can issue a maximum prison sentence of 5 years, plus a fine.

How long does a non-molestation order last?

Usually, a non-molestation lasts 6 to 12 months. In some circumstances, it is granted until ‘further notice’.

What happens when a non-molestation order expires?

Before an order expires, the applicant (the person who applied for the order) can apply to have it extended, provided the need can be justified. If the order has already expired, then a new application is required.

How much is a non-molestation order?

There is no court fee to apply for a non-molestation order. If you decide to seek legal advice, you may be eligible to receive legal aid.

Please talk to our solicitors to find out whether you could meet the criteria for legal aid and how to apply.

What is the difference between a non-molestation order and a restraining order?

A non-molestation order is granted by the family law court, whereas the criminal court can grant a restraining order under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Restraining orders may be granted when somebody is convicted for a crime, perhaps to protect a witness. If the person is acquitted of the crime, a restraining order may still be granted.

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