A non-molestation order is a type of injunction that aims to protect individuals from harassment, intimidation, or threats of violence by another person, and protects the applicant and any children from being molested by the other party whilst it is in force. But on what grounds can you apply for a non-molestation order? This article explains all.
What does a non-molestation order contain?
Generally, a non-molestation order includes the following provisions:
- Preventing the abuser from molesting the victim or any others associated with them. This could be children, for example, or other associated relatives who have suffered or will potentially suffer harm
- Banning the abuser from communicating with the victim or instructing a third party to do so
The court can also attach a power of arrest to the order, which means that any breach can be dealt with by the police.
When can I apply for a non-molestation order?
To obtain a non-molestation order, an applicant must demonstrate to the court that they have reasonable grounds to fear for their safety or well-being due to the actions of the other party. The grounds for a non-molestation order can include, but are not limited to:
Actual or Threatened Violence
The applicant must be able to show that the respondent has engaged in, or is likely to engage in, acts of abuse or violence against them or their children.
This may involve a pattern of behaviour intended to cause the applicant distress, alarm, or fear. Harassment can be physical, verbal, or emotional.
If the other party’s actions are causing the applicant to feel frightened or coerced, this could be grounds for a non-molestation order.
Control or Coercive Behaviour
This includes situations where the other party exercises control or coercion over the applicant. It might not involve physical violence, but could still be harmful.
If the other party has made threats against the applicant’s safety or well-being, even if they have not acted upon those threats, it could be a basis for seeking a non-molestation order.
Persistent and unwanted behaviour, such as stalking, can also be grounds for a non-molestation order.
When applying for a non-molestation order, the applicant will need to provide evidence to support their claims. This can include witness statements, police reports, medical records, photographs, text messages, emails, and any other relevant documentation that can help establish the need for protection.
How long does a non-molestation last for?
Non-molestation injunctions generally last anything between 6 and 12 months. But the exact duration depends on the individual circumstances of the case. It is possible for an order to last over 12 months, but this depends on the situation and the severity of the molestation. If the end of the period of time is reached and the protection of a court order is still required, the applicant can apply to have the order extended. It’s worth noting that the other party can contest a non-molestation order if they believe it to be unjustified.
What happens if my ex breaches the non-molestation order?
Breaching a non-molestation order is taken very seriously by the court and could amount to a criminal offence. If found guilty, in the most severe cases, this could mean a term of imprisonment. Alternatively, it is possible to pursue the matter through the civil court, which will follow a similar procedure to a criminal trial, and uses the criminal burden and standard of proof: beyond reasonable doubt. If found guilty under civil rules, the other party could face a 2-year maximum prison sentence, although this is likely to be suspended. The court can also issue a fine or issue a new injunction. In some rare situations the other party may also argue that them breaching the order was accidental (e.g. them bumping into you in the park), though their behaviour up to that point and how they react in the moment of the accidental breach is likely to make it clear if it was indeed an accident.
It is important to note that non-molestation orders are a serious legal matter, and the specific grounds and requirements may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. If you are in need of legal advice regarding a non-molestation order, it is recommended you consult a qualified solicitor or legal professional who specialises in family law. Take a look below for the best family lawyers in your area for details of people who can help.
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