Non-molestation orders are court orders prohibiting an individual from “molesting” another person who is associated with them and/or a relevant child. Applications for these types of orders are ordinarily made under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996.
Molestation is not defined under the 1996 Act, but includes violence and threats of violence. It is not confined to such physical aspects either, with its definition extending to include controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour and all forms of abuse.
There are restrictions on who might apply for a non-molestation order, with the Act referring to “associated persons”. This definition includes parties that have or currently are married (including civil partners) to one another, current or former cohabiting couples, parties to the same family, if they both have parental responsibility for a child, or if they have previously had “…an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration.”
It is common for applications for non-molestation orders to go hand in hand with occupation orders. This is because the modern approach to dealing with these applications, if successful, is to order the offending party to “keep away” from a particular address for example, but the non-molestation order cannot extend to ordering the offending party to “get out” of that property. This latter issue, if required, is addressed by the occupation order itself.
Non-molestation orders are generally only ordered for a specified period of time, frequently 6-12 months. They can be extended upon further application to the court if necessary.
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