Non-Molestation Order

Non-Molestation Order

What usually begins as simple intimidation can escalate into a cycle of abusive acts that can erode the self-esteem of the victim and may lead to serious harm, even murder. This is how domestic violence works, causing devastating consequences that include physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, and financial abuse. If you are in this situation and afraid of what will happen to you and your children, you can apply for a non-molestation order that will prevent your tormentor from assaulting or harassing you. 

What is a non-molestation order?

A non-molestation order is a special injunction granted by the Family Court to protect you from an abusive person. It is a very powerful court order. Any breach is considered a serious criminal offence, subjecting the respondent to immediate arrest and imprisonment for up to 5 years.

The nature of the order will depend on the history and circumstances of the abuse. The court will study your case and consider all the evidence that strengthens it, including the abusive emails and text messages, photos of your injuries, and damages to property. It is necessary to prove how your safety and your child’s well-being are at risk to ensure that the court will grant your request.

To apply for a non-molestation order, you need to establish your ‘association’ with the respondent. Under the Family Law Act 1996, the abuser can be:

  • A spouse or previous spouse
  • A fiancé(e) or ex-fiancé(e) 
  • A civil partner or ex-civil partner
  • The father or mother of your child
  • Someone with whom you had or having an intimate relationship
  • A person with whom you used to or currently living with
  • A family member
  • A relative
  • An in-law

These also apply to mixed and same-sex partners.

Who will be protected by the non-molestation order?

This injunction will protect you and your relevant child who is:

  • Under 18 years old
  • Living or expected to live with you and the abuser
  • Linked to your application for the injunction and subject to family court proceedings
  • Whose interest is found by the court as relevant

Children over 18 years old and other adult family members who need protection can apply for themselves. 

How does a non-molestation order protect you?

The non-molestation order specifies the prohibited acts that the respondent should follow. It may include any of the following:

  • Harass, pester, or intimidate you and your relevant child.
  • Threaten or use violence towards you or your relevant child.
  • Prevent your abuser from coming within a certain distance from your home or workplace.
  • Send abusive texts, letters, or other forms of communication.
  • Attempt or threaten to damage your home or any property that belongs to you.
  • Contact you and your relevant child directly or indirectly.
  • Use, encourage, or instruct another person to do any of the acts above.

If contact with the child is not prohibited by the court, the non-molestation order will have a clause that lets the respondent contact you directly or your solicitors to arrange the schedule.

The non-molestation order is time-limited and usually remains in force for 6-12 months. You can ask for an extension through your solicitor prior to its expiry date if you still need protection from your abuser.