Get legal protection from domestic abuse

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you can get quick and effective protection from the family courts.

You can ask them to issue court orders, called injunctions, that can stop abusive behaviour towards you and prevent someone from coming into or going near your home:

  • non-molestation orders aim to stop abusive behaviour
  • occupation orders aim to keep an abusive person out of your family home or local area

There’s no application fee and you can apply for both orders if you need them. You may also be able to get legal aid.

The orders can protect you and your children from abuse – but there are other orders you can get that deal with where your children live and how they see the other parent, such as child arrangements orders.

Non-molestation orders

You can use a non-molestation order, sometimes called an NMO or ‘non-mol’ for short, to stop someone:

  • being violent or threatening violence towards you
  • being abusive, whether physically, emotionally or financially
  • harassing you
  • pestering you
  • intimidating you
  • contacting you
  • commenting about you or sharing intimate images of you online
  • going near your home

The family court decides whether to issue an NMO. It will think about what the risks are to you and your family's health, safety and wellbeing if it doesn't give one. It will balance this against the impact the order would have on the other person.

You can only get an NMO on someone you know well. See Applying for a court order for details.

NMOs typically last for 6 to 12 months, but you can ask the court to extend it if you need to.

Breaking a non-molestation order is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

Occupation orders

Occupation orders, also called OOs, are used to keep someone you are or were living with, or intended to live with, away from your family home.

They can also be used to force someone to:

  • stay in a certain room or part of your home
  • let you back into your home
  • keep paying the mortgage, rent or other household bills

The court will carefully think about how the order will affect the people involved, including any children you may have, and decide who might come to more harm if it is or isn’t made.

They’ll consider your housing needs, money situation and the safety and wellbeing of you and your children, and the behaviour of both sides.

The court can add the power of arrest to the order if it thinks your safety is at risk. That means the police can arrest the person and take them to court to be punished if they break the order.

OOs usually last for 6 months and can be extended with good reasons.

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