Understanding a non-molestation order
Nobody should endure domestic violence, and if you feel that you or your children are in any immediate danger then your first priority should be to call the police. In order to ensure that you are not subject to domestic violence in the future you can apply to the courts for a non-molestation order which will prevent your partner or ex-partner from harming you or threatening you with harm.
Always remember, it doesn’t just happen to you, please don’t be scared or embarrassed to report domestic violence. For further information, see our detailed guide on dealing with domestic violence and getting support. Below, we will take a look at some of the more common questions that are asked, in order to help you understand more about a non-molestation order.
What is a non-molestation order?
A non molestation order is a special injunction that aims to prevent a partner or former partner from harming you or your children. By harm we mean actual or the threat of physical violence, any form of harassment or intimidation, as well as psychological abuse.
Who can it be applied to?
It can be applied to any partner or previous partner including the following:
- A spouse or ex-spouse
- A civil partner or previous civil partner
- A fiancé(e) or ex-fiancé(e)
- Someone with whom you are living or used to live with
- The father or mother of your child
- Someone with whom you have had an intimate personal relationship
- A family member
All of these apply equally to same sex and mixed sex partners.
How does it protect me?
A non-molestation order is very powerful. If it is breached then it is an arrestable offence. The offender is likely to be arrested by the police and could be subject to imprisonment for a period of up to five years.
Does my partner need to know that I have applied for a non-molestation order?
No, you can do it without your partner knowing. Legally this is known as “ex-parte”. This is useful as it can give you more protection as it can be granted almost straight away.
Note that when this happens without the other side of the case being heard then the court might order another hearing in which it takes into consideration any evidence presented by the other side.
When does it come into effect?
It doesn’t come into effect until your partner has been served with it. The reason for this is that the courts have to be sure that the other party has knowledge of its existence. They can’t be charged with breaching a court order of which they have no knowledge.
How long does it last?
It can run for a fixed period or it can last indefinitely; generally it is continues to run until it is cancelled by another court order.
How do I apply for one?
You can apply for one yourself, but you will need to fill out a form called FL401. It is a fairly lengthy form and runs to ten pages including the supporting information. You need to sign three copies of it and take it to your family court. You will also need to pay the court fees of £75.
I have been served with a non-molestation order, but it was based on lies. What can I do about it?
It does happen that some people are wrongly served or believe that they have been wrongly served with a non-molestation order. If this is the case then you have the right of appeal to the courts. You have to remember that domestic violence also falls under criminal law, as it’s a crime to assault someone. If you have been wrongfully accused, you should speak to your solicitor.
Most people find that they need help with getting a non-molestation order as it can be a very distressing experience, particularly if you feel that you are in danger. Please do read our guide to domestic violence, and see the list of support groups available.
You are strongly advised to seek help from a solicitor experienced in domestic violence who will apply to the court on your behalf; in certain circumstances legal aid could be available. You can find and contact your local QualitySolicitors branch here to find out more information.