A guide to protection against domestic violence

Read article

Domestic violence or abuse includes all kinds of physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between people who are, or were, in a relationship with each other or are family members over the age of 16.

Many kinds of domestic abuse are criminal offences and the police can arrest, caution or charge the perpetrator. Most police stations have Domestic Violence Units or Community Safety Units with specially trained officers to deal with domestic violence and abuse.

In addition, the law enables those subject to domestic violence to apply to the court for injunctions to protect themselves. These orders are called non-molestation orders and occupations orders.

A non-molestation order is used to stop someone from harming or threatening another person. For an application to be successful there must be evidence:

  • Of the behaviour complained of.
  • That the individual or a child are in need of protection.
  • That an order is needed to control the behaviour of the perpetrator.

Typically, a non-molestation order is made for six to twelve months but it is possible to apply for further orders.

An occupation order can be used to remove someone from the family home or to stop them from coming back. It can also be used to set out rules to enable a property to be shared.

For an application to be successful, the judge will apply a ‘balance of harm’ test and will consider whether the individual making the application, or any child, is likely to suffer significant harm if they do not make an occupation order. That being said, if the balance of harm test is not fully satisfied, the judge will still consider all the circumstances of the situation and may still decide to make the occupation order.  

An occupation order is intended to determine temporary living arrangements to give individuals time to organise where they will live and how they will divide their property. They can be made for up to six months but it is possible to apply for further orders.

Incidents of domestic abuse, especially ongoing abuse, often require urgent, emergency steps to provide protection from harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Our family law team can also help you arrange protection against domestic violence through the family court by seeking a non-molestation order and/or an occupation order. We also work closely with our local Citizens Advice who can direct you to other support services. Please contact Andrew Green or Louisa Callaghan for more information.

Contact us Back to news