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How can I stop my former partner from threatening or harassing me?

08 May 2017

Unacceptable behaviour from a former partner, such as threats of violence, stalking or harassment, do not have to be tolerated.  

Abigail Eriksson-Lee, family law solicitor at Warners Solicitors in Kent explains how you could get a court order called an ‘injunction’ to protect you and your family from harm. 

Types of injunction

There are a number of injunctions that can be granted, including:

  • a non-molestation order;
  • an occupation order; and
  • a prohibited steps order.

Depending on your circumstances you may need to apply for more than one order.

If your partner fails to do what they have been ordered to do by an injunction they will have committed an offence for which they could be sent to prison.

Non-molestation order

A non-molestation order is the most common type of injunction in family cases and can be used to prevent your former partner from doing certain things, like physically assaulting you, harassing you, or coming near your home or place of work.  It can cover a wide variety of actions, such as contact by text or posting comments on social media.

To benefit from a non-molestation order, you and your partner must either:

  • be married to each other;
  • have previously been married to each other;
  • have lived together; or
  • have a child together.

The court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case, which includes the need to secure the health, safety and well being of the applicant. If the applicant is able to show a genuine need for protection the Court will usually grant the order. 

A non-molestation order can last for up to 12 months but can be extended beyond that if necessary.

Occupation order

An occupation order regulates the occupation of the family home.  It can be used to exclude one party from the property altogether or any part of the property.  As this is a draconian measure the court will only take this step once they have considered all the circumstances of the case including the resources and needs of both parties and any children.  The Court must then apply the balance of harm test. 

An occupation order can be made for up to 12 months, but can be extended beyond that if necessary.  Because it is a temporary order, it does not affect property ownership rights.

Prohibited steps order

A prohibited steps order can be used to stop your former partner doing a number of things concerning your child, such as turning up at their school unannounced or trying to remove them from your care.  The court will decide how long the order should last for, but it will not normally extend beyond your child’s sixteenth birthday.

Do I need an injunction?

If you are concerned about the behaviour of your former partner it is important that you take legal advice as soon as possible.  Your solicitor will discuss all options with you and tell you if they think an injunction is needed.  In some cases, intervention from a solicitor can persuade your partner to agree voluntarily to stay away from you or to stop behaving in a certain way, and if this promise is made to a judge and is subsequently broken it is possible that your partner may be sent to prison.   

For a confidential discussion about injunctions, or any other family law matter, please contact Abigail Eriksson-Lee on 01732 747900 or email [email protected].

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.