Applying for a court order

To get a non-molestation order or occupation order you need to apply to the family court.

Getting an order means starting legal proceedings and usually involves having at least one court hearing.

There’s no application fee for these orders and you may be able to get legal aid to help with any legal costs. You can apply for both orders or just one.

If it's an emergency, you can make an urgent application. Otherwise, it could take a week or more depending on the court’s availability.

When you apply, you’ll be known as the applicant. The person you’re taking the order against will be called the respondent.

Can I apply?

These orders can only be used against people you have particular personal connection with, (sometimes called associated persons).

You can apply if you and the respondent are or were:

  • engaged, married or in a civil partnership (within the last 3 years)
  • boyfriend, girlfriend or in an intimate relationship for some time
  • parents of the same child, or sharing parental responsibility for a child
  • relatives or ‘in-laws’ (even if you weren’t married)

For occupation orders, you also have to show that the home concerned is the one you and the respondent are or were living in, or intended to live in.

If the person doesn’t fit one of these categories – for example, it’s a neighbour or a friend – you can try to get a harassment order instead.

It’s an emergency

When you apply, you can say it’s an emergency and you need protection urgently. You’ll need to have good reasons.

The court will consider your application as soon as possible, often the same day, without telling the respondent about it. This is known as a without notice or ex parte application.

A without notice application is also useful if you’d be in danger if the respondent knew you were trying to get a court order.

The court may grant you an interim order to give you the immediate protection you need. But it will set a date for another hearing to give the respondent a chance to put forward their side of the story too.

When you get an order, the respondent has to be told about it so they know not to break it. For details, see What happens after I apply?

How do I apply?

We have an easy online tool called CourtNav which asks you everything the court needs to know.

It fills out an application form for you from your answers and helps you prepare a supporting statement.

CourtNav applications are checked by a legal adviser before going to court. CourtNav helps you to pick a legal firm, which will check if you can get legal aid.

If you can’t get legal aid or pay for their legal advice, our legal advisers at RCJ Advice will check it for free.

If you already have a court order, you can apply to extend it using a different form.

Start my application

The link below will take you to the CourtNav registration page where you create an online account.

You don’t have to fill in the form all at once – you can save your progress as you go, and come back whenever you’re ready.

Start my application

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