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Civil orders and what to expect at court

Types of order

Non-molestation order

A non-molestation order is a type of injunction that may be sought by a victim of domestic abuse against their abuser. It is one of two types of injunction available under the Family Law Act 1996.

You may ask the court to make the details of a non-molestation order particular to your circumstances. For example, the Respondent may be forbidden from the following:

  • To use or threaten violence against the Applicant

  • Intimidate, harass or pester the Applicant

  • Telephone, text, email or otherwise contact the Applicant except by means agreed on the order for example, through the Applicant's solicitor or a relative.

  • Go to, enter or attempt to enter any property they believe the Applicant to be living. The court may also list specific properties or streets the Respondent is forbidden to enter.

  • Post comments about the applicant or other agreed persons on social media

Although a non-molestation order is made in the civil courts, it is a criminal offence to breach its terms and can lead to the Respondent being arrested. However, because it is a civil order, a copy of it may not be lodged with the police automatically. It is therefore important to ensure your solicitor or the process server provides a copy along with the statement of service to your local police force. 

A non-molestation order will usually last for 6 or 12 months. After this time, if you still require the order you can ask the court to renew it or make a new application. 

Occupation order

An occupation order is the second order that can be applied for under the Family Law Act 1996. It sets out who has the right to stay at the family home, who can return and who should be excluded. orders can only be made in relation to a property where you both live, have lived or that you intend to live in.

An occupation order does not change the financial ownership of a property and is normally a short term arrangement. Its duration will depend on your needs but usually it will last for six or twelve months.

You can apply for an occupation order at the same time as a non-molestation order however, it is very rare that court will grant an occupation order on a without notice basis. Therefore, if you apply for both types of order, you may be granted your non-molestation order initially but your application for an occupation order may be heard initially at the return hearing.