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Non-molestation order FAQs

Non-molestation order FAQs

  • Who can apply for a non-molestation order?

    If you’re a victim of domestic abuse by someone you’re in or have been in a relationship with, a family member, someone you’re living with or have lived with, you can apply for a non-molestation order.

  • How to apply for a non-molestation order?

    To get a non-molestation order, you make an application by filling out form FL401 and submit it to the family court along with supporting evidence. There’s no fee for this application.

    It is possible to make an emergency application to the court for a non-molestation order if the incident has happened recently, for example within the last week.

    You can also apply for a non-molestation order without the abuser knowing. This can help to prevent any potential escalation of abuse before protection is in place for you and your family.


  • What evidence do you need for a non-molestation order?

    To apply for a non-molestation order, you must prove you’ve experienced abuse or harassment from the other person. A family lawyer can assist in preparing a witness statement detailing the abuse and key events.

    Strong evidence such as abusive messages, emails, or social media posts, along with photos of injuries or property damage, will support your case. Reports from authorities like the police, your GP, or a support worker can also be used as evidence.


  • What happens when it’s heard in court?

    After you submit your non-molestation application, the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether to grant the order. Depending on the level of threat, the order may be issued immediately or after up to three hearings. If you apply without the abuser knowing, the court may grant a non-molestation order right away to protect you. However, they will also schedule a ‘return hearing’ where the abuser can present their case. You will still be protected by the non-molestation order until this hearing.

    Alternatively, where a non-molestation order isn’t made straight away, you can agree with the abuser to be bound by undertakings until the conclusion of the proceedings. Undertakings are promises to the court not to do something, like contacting or coming near you. Sometimes, undertakings can resolve the entire matter without the need for a full court process for a non-molestation order if you feel adequately protected by them.

    Breaching undertakings isn’t an arrestable offense but constitutes contempt of court, which can result in fines, community service, or imprisonment.

    During in-person hearings, you can request special measures like separate entrances or screens to protect you from the abuser’s presence.


  • What factors does the court consider before approving a non-molestation order?

    The court considers all circumstances, focusing on ensuring your and your children’s health, safety, and wellbeing when deciding on a non-molestation order.


  • What happens if there’s a breach of a non-molestation order?

    Breach of a non-molestation order is an arrestable offense. If your abuser breaches the order, you can report them to the police for criminal proceedings or begin civil proceedings by applying to the family court for their arrest or punishment.

    In criminal court, the maximum sentence for breach is five years imprisonment and a fine. In family court, it’s two years imprisonment, a suspended sentence, or fines.

  • How long does a non-molestation order last for?

    Non-molestation orders typically last 6-12 months but can be longer if needed. The judge decides the length of the order based on your case’s circumstances and the threat posed to you or your children.

    In some cases, you can request an extension through the family court that issued the order.


  • What happens next?

    Once a non-molestation order is granted and the abuser is served with it, any breach becomes a criminal offense.

    For emergency orders served without notice to the abuser, a follow-up hearing occurs approximately 2 weeks later. At this hearing, the judge decides whether to uphold or dismiss the order based on the abuser’s response.

    When the order expires, typically within 6-12 months, you can apply for an extension through the family court. The court evaluates your circumstances and the need to ensure your and your children’s health, safety, and wellbeing when considering extension.


The importance of legal advice

Before applying for a non-molestation order, consulting with a family lawyer is crucial to ensure your situation meets the necessary requirements, avoiding unnecessary time and expenses.

Your application’s success heavily relies on your supporting statement and evidence. Seeking guidance from a specialised family lawyer increases your chances of obtaining the protective order.

Court proceedings, especially for domestic abuse victims, can be intimidating. Having a lawyer or barrister represent you can ease the process and ensure your case is presented effectively.


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