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A Non-Molestation Order is a special injunction with the purpose of protecting one person from the behaviour of another. The person who applies for the Order is called the Applicant, and the person whose behaviour necessitates the application is called the Respondent. Such Orders can be made either in the Applicant's interest, or on behalf of a related child.
Often a Non-Molestation Order is used to protect victims of domestic violence, but they can also be applied for in cases of actual or threatened violence, stalking, or abusive language or messaging (for instance by text message or via social media).
To apply for a Non-Molestation Order, the Applicant must be able to show that they are associated with the Respondent. This encompasses current or previous partners, someone with whom you live or have previously lived with, someone with whom you have had an intimate personal relationship, or a relative including step-parents or step-children. When applying for a Non-Molestation Order on behalf of a child, the Respondent must be the biological parent of, or have Parental Responsibility for, the child who is the subject of the Order.
An application for a Non-Molestation Order can be made by a solicitor on the Applicant's behalf, or by the Applicant themselves. The application is made to the Family Court.
You can apply for a Non-Molestation Order without the Respondent being aware at the time of the application. The application will need to demonstrate that protection is necessary, and the court will consider all the circumstances in deciding whether to grant the Order, focusing on the physical and mental safety, health, and wellbeing of the Applicant and/or the child. The nature of the behaviour against which Non-Molestation Orders are designed to protect means that they are generally granted almost immediately. The Order will not, however, come into effect until the Respondent has been served with it, as it is not possible for a person to breach an Order of which they have no knowledge.
Any Non-Molestation Order that is granted will place restrictions on the behaviour of the Respondent towards the Applicant and/or child. This might include, for example, the use of any abusive language, violence or threatened violence, any communication either direct or indirect except via a solicitor or coming within a certain distance of the Applicant. Any breach by the Respondent of a court-granted Order is a criminal offence for which the Respondent can be arrested and prosecuted under criminal law, with the potential for consequent imprisonment of up to five years.
Typically, Non-Molestation Orders are not made until the court reviews the matter at a return hearing. At this point should the court deem the Order should remain in force it will generally do so for a further six to twelve months.
Anyone who is at immediate risk of harm should contact the Police on 999 to seek urgent protection.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles