Family Law

Domestic Violence

At Douglas Clift & Co Solicitors of Lancaster we have extensive experience of helping vicitims of domestic violence and we understand that it can happen to all people and manifest itself in many ways. We understand how difficult it can be to come forward and we treat each case with confidentiality and professionalism.

If you are the vicitim of domestic violence or abuse and you are concerned for your safety then you should immediately contact the Police on 999. We can also help you apply for a non-molestation order or occupational order otherwise referred to as injunctions.

What Are Non-Molestation And Occupation Orders?

A Non-Molestation Order is an order that is made to prevent one party to a relationship from assaulting, threatening or even communicating with the other party. It can also be put in place to stop one party intimidating, harassing or pestering the other party. A Non-Molestation Order can also provide the applicant with protection around their property, for example the court have power to prevent the defendant from going within a certain distance of the applicant’s property.

An Occupation Order regulates the occupation of the property on a temporary basis until the parties’ have the opportunity to try and resolve the issues over a period of time. The Occupation Order can order a defendant to leave a property, can order a defendant not to go into a property and can exclude a defendant from going within a certain area of the property. In effect it deals with the right of occupation in respect of a property.

Who Can Apply?

A number of people can apply for an Occupation Order. There usually has to be a connection by way of relationship between the parties. If there is no relationship as such, it is still possible in certain circumstances to apply for an order under the Protection from Harassment Act. We would already have advised you whether you have a right to apply for a Non-Molestation/Occupation Order.

Under what circumstances can You apply?

In order to obtain a Non-Molestation/Occupation Order the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the applicant and any relevant child. Usually violence, threats of violence, harassment and pestering can constitute actions that could result in a Non-Molestation or an Occupation Order.

Urgent Matters

By their very nature applications for Non-Molestation and Occupation Orders are usually dealt with on an urgent basis. It is possible to apply to the court immediately on a “without notice” basis. This means that the defendant does not receive notification of the hearing. Courts do not like making such orders, as the defendant has not had their say on the matter. Generally a court on a “without notice” basis will grant a Non-Molestation Order but will probably not grant an Occupation Order on a “without notice” basis unless there is the likelihood of immediate physical danger to the applicant, and/or any children at the property. They will usually ensure that the matter is dealt with again in the course of the few days after the initial hearing, but some protection with regard to a Non-Molestation Order is usually provided.

What Other Orders Can Be Made?

The court has a large range of powers to make various orders concerning the contents of the property and who pays the mortgage. We will discuss with you any orders that we feel to be appropriate in your case.

How Long Does An Order Last?

A Non-Molestation and Occupation Order is meant to be temporary protection, however they usually last 6 or 12 months from the date they are granted.

Breach Of The Order

If an order is made then we will provide you with a copy of the order on the day that it is made. The order will then have to be served upon the defendant. If we cannot serve it upon him/her, we have to convince the court that the contents of the order have come to his/her attention. Any details of his/her whereabouts and/or a photograph of him/her would be useful. Breach of the order is, in most cases, a criminal offence and if in your view the defendant breaches the injunction, your first port of call should be to contact the Police, especially if the incident takes place outside office hours. The Police will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to prove the case, that the breach has occurred, and they will then prosecute the defendant in the usual manner. If they believe that he/she is a danger to you, the courts can remand them in custody. The following points are extremely important: -

  • If there is a breach of the Non-Molestation/Occupation Order then you should contact the Police immediately. You should not allow a number of breaches to take place before contacting them.
  • You should not encourage a breach of the order by the defendant, for example by ringing him/her or inviting him/her round to the property.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is available for pursuing a Non-Molestation/Occupation Order. The Legal Aid Agency will usually only refuse public funding if you are financially ineligible, if they do not think that you need the protection of a Non-Molestation/Occupation Order or there are bail conditions already against the defendant issued by the Police or the courts. It is still important that you inform us as to the situation regarding bail conditions due to the fact that as soon as the bail conditions are lifted, you may need an order on an urgent basis.

Contact Our Domestic Violence Solicitors In Lancaster

Our specialist Family Law solicitors will deal with you with compassion and sensitivity and will guide you through this complicated and stressful process. Douglas Clift & Co Solicitors will provide a free 30 minute initial consultation to assess your circumstances.

Contact us now on 01524 32437 or alternatively use our contact form to discuss this further.