Obtaining injunctions is a way you can protect yourself from your abuser with the full force of the legal system behind you.
The term is used to describe any court order forbidding specified behaviour, such as threatening you, or limiting their actions, like visiting your home.
Breaching injunctions can be an arrestable offence (dependent upon the type of order) and courts may issue more than one type of order if considered appropriate.
There are 3 types of order that you can apply for in the civil courts:
The Court will require evidence of molestation (domestic abuse) and must be satisfied that you need the protection of the Court
A non-molestation order can be applied for on an emergency basis without notice to the abuser, if there has been a threat of physical violence in the past week.
In deciding whether to grant an order on an emergency basis, the Court will consider all the circumstances in regards to 3 specific factors: whether there is any risk of significant harm if the order is not made immediately; whether it is likely you will be deterred or prevented from making or continuing the application if the order is not made immediately or whether the respondent (abuser) is deliberately avoiding being served with notice of the apply and that you would be seriously prejudiced by the delay.
If the order is granted without notice (ex parte), the respondent will not be aware of it until the order is served on him/her. There will then be a further (return) hearing, which your abuser is given notice of, in the order and can attend.
The most common application we assist with is for a non-molestation order so we have further details on a separate page.
An occupation order is how the Court regulates the occupation of the family home to protect those who live there. It is the most powerful order the Court has, as it could exclude an abuser from living in the family home or visiting there. In some cases, this could mean that an abuser must leave even if they are the legal owner of the family home. They may be banned from coming within a certain distance of the property.
Occupation orders are tailored to individual circumstances. Therefore if the abuser is not excluded from the family home, there could be conditions such as the respondent having to stay in set parts of the home at certain times, allowing you back into the home if they have locked you out, and ordering them to continue to pay towards the mortgage, rent, bills or repairs.
Under the Family Law Act 1996, an occupation order can only apply to the family home, in which you and your abuser either live or used to live in together.
You and your abuser must be “associated persons”, essentially married, or previously married, living together or previously living together, including in-laws, and you have been abused by them.
The Family Law Act has 5 sections under which an occupation order can be applied for. These differ according to your rights in the property and your “association” with your abuser.
Among factors the court will take into account are your housing needs, those of any children and the respondent’s; the financial resources of you and the respondent; your behaviour to each other; and the likely effect any order, or not making an order, will have on all parties, including any children.
Usually, an occupation order will only be granted if the respondent has somewhere else to live, though this stipulation is not always applied. A power of arrest can be attached in certain circumstances.
This order can prohibit someone with parental responsibility (under the Children’s Act 1989) for your child(ren) from taking them away from your care and control.
This order is particularly appropriate when the person threatening to take away your child(ren) is ordinarily allowed to look after them.
You must have parental responsibility for your child/children to apply for a prohibited steps order.
You can apply for one on an emergency basis (without notice) if, within the last 7 days, the Respondent has taken your child (even if they eventually returned the child to you), attempted to take your child or threatened to take your child.
The Court will grant a prohibited steps order if it considers that order to be in the best interests of your child. It may consider a child arrangement order to be more appropriate.
If a prohibited steps order is granted on an emergency basis, then the Court will require a further hearing when the Respondent will be required to attend.
This is the criminal court equivalent of a non-molestation order. It is only imposed at the end of the criminal proceedings but can be imposed even if a defendant has been found not guilty of an offence if the Court believes the order is necessary to protect another from harassment.
The order can be for a specified period or until further notice.
Breach of a Restraining order is a criminal offence and carries the same penalties as breach of a non-molestation order.