Domestic Violence – Worrying Figures Continue For England & Wales

This article explains a non-molestation order, which helps’s victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence continues to be a problem, with statistics continuing to rise. Did you know that in 2018 there were 25,135 domestic violence remedy order applications in 2018?  This is an increase of 1% compared to 2017. With some commenting that domestic violence kills 15 times as many as does terrorism in Britain.

What is a Non-Molestation Order?

The order is used to prevent threats, harassment, and violence.

The victim applying is the applicant and the accused is the respondent. This order protects the victim and relevant children from being molested by the respondent.

What Are Examples of Molestation?

The word molestation is not defined by the Family Law Act 1996. However, domestic abuse comes in many forms such as physical, psychological, financial etc.

In previous cases:

  • acts/threats of violence;
  • searching through a handbag without permission;
  • sending nude photographs of an individual to a third party

were all accepted as forms of molestation.

Who Can Apply for Non-Molestation Orders?

Non-Molestation – Examples of Associated Persons?

  • Individuals who are or were cohabiting;
  • Those who intend were or are married or civil partners;
  • If you live or have lived in the same house in a familial relationship;
  • Those who are related to you (i.e. parents, stepparents, grandparents, former spouse, etc);
  • If you have or have had an intimate relationship for a significant period;

Remember, if you are under 16, you will need the court’s permission to make the application.  This would confirm to the court that you have sufficient understanding.

What Does the Court Consider for a Non-Molestation Order?

The non-molestation application is not guaranteed to be successful. In order to avoid rejection, the application should be prepared carefully.

The court will consider all of the circumstances. This includes securing the health, well-being, and safety of the victim and any relevant children. It is important that your witness statement is drafted carefully and this will focus on the details and effects of the accused’s behavior. For your application to be successful, you must need protection and there must be supporting evidence.

The court will decide on the balance of probabilities as to whether injunctive action is necessary to control the accused’s conduct.

What Can the Court Order for Non-Molestation Orders?

The court can put restrictions on the accused prohibiting them from certain conduct. This includes forbidding them from using or threatening violence, communicating with the victim or from attending a specific property or area. Normally, they also prohibit the accused from instructing or encouraging third parties from this conduct.

What is the Form to Apply for a Non-Molestation Order?

The application is made on the form FL401 and if the applicant wants to keep their details confidential they can also fill the form C8.

What Are Non-Molestation Order Undertakings?

In most cases, this order can be a good deterrent for the accused. However, the court can accept an undertaking (legally binding promise) that the conduct will not occur. This would not normally be accepted in cases where there is a high risk of domestic abuse or there have been breaches of previous orders.

The breach is an arrestable offence. The accused can be arrested, charged and punished by the court and the defences are limited.

How Long Does the Order Last?

These orders last for between three months and one year but they can last for a longer period.

Non-Molestation Order – ‘Breach’ by the Applicant (‘Victim’)?

It may seem peculiar as the order is against the respondent. There can be situations where the applicant will begin contacting the respondent.

However, it is important that the respondent does not breach the order or coerce the applicant in any way. The breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence so the respondent should seek independent legal advice.  They should act in a way that protects them from a criminal record.

Non-Molestation Order – Breach by the Respondent (‘Accused’)

The applicant can contact the police and they will help.  Thereafter, the police will likely arrest, interview, charge and progress the matter to court.

The respondent must be aware of the order and be personally served. If the respondent (without a valid defence) breaches the non-molestation order – it is a criminal offence. The breach is an either-way offence and can be heard in either the Magistrates or Crown Court. The offence ranges from a fine to 4 years’ custody, with a maximum sentence of 5 years’ custody.

“…It is sad to see the continuing rise in domestic violence cases. However, on the other hand, it is positive to see that individuals are coming forth for support. The battle is on-going and the government, legal sector, and wider society need to keep pushing to reduce and prevent cases of domestic violence…” – Azhar Hussain (Solicitor-Advocate)

Other Free Family Resources

  1. Vlog 1 – Divorce – What is 5 years separation?
  2. Vlog 2 – Divorce – What is Adultery? 
  3. Vlog 3 – Divorce – What is 2 Years Separation (with consent)?
  4. Vlog 4 – Divorce – What is Unreasonable Behaviour?
  5. Vlog 5 – Divorce – What is Desertion?
  6. Article – New Divorce Law Changes