One in five adults will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. With almost one million domestic abuse-related crimes recorded annually in England and Wales, it’s an issue that will affect almost every family at some point in time.
Domestic abuse impacts both men and women and can take many forms. Although some forms of domestic abuse don’t result in outward signs of violence, such as cuts, bruising or broken bones, verbal and emotional abuse can be just as devastating.
Anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship can seek legal protection from their abuser.
What does a Non-Molestation Order do?
A Non-Molestation Order (NMO) is a specific type of injunction which protects victims of domestic abuse from their abuser. It ensures that the victim and their child or children are not harassed or further harmed by the abuser.
Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for a Non-Molestation Order against a current or former partner, a family member or someone who you live or have previously lived with.
The person you’re seeking protection from is known as the respondent. The title of partner encompasses a wide range of relationships, including anyone you have been in a relationship with for more than six months, a wife, husband or ex-wife or husband, current or previous civil partner, or former fiancée or fiancé if the engagement ended less than three years ago.
NMOs aren’t just for those suffering abuse from a former or current romantic partner. They can also be sought against close family members such as a parent or sibling. Persons under the age of 16 who wish to apply to the courts for an NMO must first obtain permission from the High Court to do so.
You can also apply for a Non-Molestation Order against someone who shares parental responsibility for your child, is the parent of your grandchild, adoptive parent or someone who has applied to become their adoptive parent.
What evidence do I need for a Non-Molestation Order?
Anyone applying for a Non-Molestation Order must complete a FL401 form. This is a 22-page document which requires information such as:
- Your own contact information.
- The respondent’s contact details.
- The nature of your relationship with the respondent.
- Details about their behaviour.
- What you’d like to stop the respondent from doing.
- Give information relating to any disabilities or any special arrangements that may be needed in court, such as the provision of a separate entrance or waiting room.
- A signed statement of truth declaration.
Alongside the completed FL401 form, you’ll also need to provide a supporting statement.
Your supporting statement is an important document and will need to be detailed and accurate. You should cover the history of your relationship with the respondent and the type of abuse you have suffered. You’ll need to provide dates, including of the most recent incidence of abuse, and detail the impact that the abuse has had on you. You should also detail the first and worst instances of abuse and again, explain in your supporting statement the impact of those abusive situations.
If you’ve told anyone about the abuse, the name(s) of those persons should be provided.
If you’d like the court to also consider ongoing patterns of abuse, in addition to specific instances of abusive behaviour, your supporting statement can also provide more details on those patterns – such as ongoing controlling behaviour. You should provide as much information as possible and as with the specific incidences of abuse, outline how that pattern of abuse impacted on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Documents to support your application, such as police statements or medical reports, should also be provided alongside your completed FL401 form.
How powerful is a Non-Molestation Order?
A Non-Molestation Order is a powerful legal mechanism for breaking the cycle of abuse. This type of injunction is legally enforceable and provides protection from further harm or harassment.
Once granted, the Order will be formally served to the respondent. It is a serious and powerful order which will typically last for a period of six to 12 months but may be extended if necessary.
How serious is breaking a Non-Molestation Order?
Breaching a Non-Molestation Order is a serious offence which could lead to arrest or imprisonment. Those breaching an order could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, depending on the seriousness of the breach.
If you wish to apply for a Non-Molestation Order, National Legal Service’s experienced team of family solicitors can offer expert legal advice and provide practical support throughout the process. Contact us to find out more about how we can help and discuss your next steps.