Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or background. Depending on the circumstances, you could apply for a non-molestation order. But how quickly can it be arranged, and can you make an application without giving your ex notice of it? Here, we set out the situation for emergency injunctions, and how quickly these can be obtained from the court.
Firstly, what is an ex-parte injunction?
A non-molestation order can also be called an ex-parte injunction, and the terms are used interchangeably. This is an application to a District Judge where the other party (Respondent) is not made aware of the proceedings before the first hearing takes place. Sometimes, it is also referred to by legal professionals as a ‘without notice’ hearing for exactly that reason. Ex-parte/without notice injunctions and non-molestation applications are the same, as is the process for obtaining them.
Ex-parte/without notice applications are emergency measures to protect the applicant and any children from the respondent and are often made in circumstances where the applicant has suffered violence, harassment, or coercive and controlling behaviour. In such applications, the court relies on the information contained within the applicant’s sworn statement (affidavit) which sets out the facts and law upon which the court is being asked to make the order.
The affidavit is an important document which must be drafted correctly in order to ensure it satisfies the District Judge an injunction should be made without the other party knowing about it. This is where getting legal advice really is essential. Preparation of the statement is a specialist skill, as the factual detail must accurately reflect what happened if you are to increase your chances of getting the order.
Does molestation always mean violent abuse?
Non-molestation injunctions are not restricted to acts of violence and can be extended to all acts of molestation, including harassment and coercive control. The court exercises wide discretion when deciding what amounts to molestation. In some cases, it may be very clear, whilst in others, the molestation being complained of is more subtle or indirect. Often, molestation will consist of a series of more minor instances of harassment, which, if taken in isolation, may not constitute threatening behaviour or serious violence. But when taken as an ongoing pattern of behaviour, clearly amounts to harassment or molestation.
Can I get a non-molestation order straightaway?
Most solicitors will try to get an ex-parte/without notice non-molestation hearing within 24 hours. This involves taking your detailed instructions at the first meeting so they can draft an affidavit and complete the application form. Sometimes, if you meet the solicitor first thing in the morning, the application could be prepared by lunchtime, otherwise it will happen the next business day.
Your solicitor will then take you to the court office, where you will swear the affidavit, sign the application form, and pay the fee. The documents are then handed back to the solicitor where you then wait to go before the District Judge. This may involve a lengthy wait, so if you have children, you should ensure you have made arrangements for their care or collection from school. Once you are called before the judge, they will look at the documents, hear from your solicitor, and make the order (or not), and list it for a further hearing with your ex present.
The documents and order are then sealed by the court, and a process server will take it to your ex and personally hand it to them. After the papers have been served, the process server will swear an affidavit at court to prove service, and notify your solicitor. Until the respondent is aware of the order, they are incapable of breaching any part of it.
Find The Best Divorce & Family Lawyers Near You
We independently review and list the top divorce lawyers and family solicitors in the towns and cities near you. 100% free.
The information on this website is to be considered a guide and is therefore not legal advice. You use this information with the understanding that Wiselaw does not accept liability for any direct or indirect losses as a result of anyone relying on or acting upon the information on this website. Whilst we endeavour to provide accurate information, Wiselaw does not accept liability for any errors or omissions on this website.