Being served with a Non-Molestation Order (the Order) can be highly distressing. You may feel indignant and want to confront the Applicant about why they have applied for such an Order against you. You might think this is a solution and can be resolved with a conversation, but this is the worst step you can take as you might be committing a criminal offence. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to see your children. So the first thing you have to do is contact a Family Law Solicitor who can advise you on what actions you can take to challenge the Order and see your children whilst ensuring you do not commit a criminal offence by breaching the Order.
But let’s start with a few necessary explanations.
A Non-Molestation Order is a powerful tool used to protect people from domestic violence and abuse. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as not just physical violence, but also emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. As part of the definition, children are explicitly recognised as victims if they see, hear, or otherwise experience the effects of abuse.
If you are served with an Order, you will be prohibited from doing certain things that constitute domestic abuse, such as:
- Using or threatening violence towards the Applicant or any relevant children.
- Intimidating, harassing, or pestering the Applicant or any relevant children.
- Contacting the Applicant or any relevant children directly or indirectly.
- Damaging, attempt to damage or threatening to damage the family home or any property belonging to the Applicant.
- Instructing or encouraging another person to do any of the above.
An Order can also prohibit you from attending or coming within a specified distance (or zone) of the family home, your children’s schools, or other relevant property.
Applications for an Order can be made at the High Court, a County Court which has a Family Hearings Centre, or the Family Court.
If the Applicant and any relevant children are in serious danger of domestic abuse, it is likely the Court will grant an Order without providing you with advanced notice. You will be unaware an Order has been made until you are served with it. (This is usually the case.)
For lesser incidents of harassment, for example, repeated and unwanted text messages or phone calls, the Court may rule that you should receive notice of the application; however, the risk of notice inflaming the situation will be given robust consideration.
If an Applicant applies for the Order to be granted without notice, they have a legal duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all relevant matters, including why they have applied for the Order to be granted without notice.
If you do anything prohibited under the Order you will be committing a criminal offence and a Contempt of Court.
You can be arrested if the police suspect you have committed a prohibited act, for example, going to the Applicants property or breaching an exclusion zone set out in the Order.
Can I challenge a Non-Molestation Order?
Yes. However, don’t try to resolve the matter yourself as you might cause more harm.
Instead, contact a specialist Family Law Solicitor straight away.
A Family Law Solicitor can help you dispute an order by:
- Drafting a statement of your version of events and providing evidence to back up your story in the form of emails, texts, and witness statements.
- Advise you on making an undertaking to the Court that you will or will not do certain things, such as contact the Applicant. Making an undertaking does not mean you admit the Applicant’s allegations are true rather, it allows you to avoid the cost and stress of attending Court.
- Negotiating arrangements so you can see your children in a safe location without breaching the Order whilst you are in the process of contesting it.
Being served with a Non-Molestation Order should be taken seriously. If you have been served with an Order don’t try to deal with it yourself, talk to a Family Law Solicitor about its scope and the consequences of committing a breach. They will help you work out your next best steps in a calm, rational way, ensuring your best interests are always protected.
We suggest a Family Law Solicitor with a proven track record that can help with Non-Molestation Order or any other family law matter. You can phone them on 0121 248 2850.