Injunctions and Domestic Violence

An Injunction is a ‘civil court order’ which can be used to keep you safe. In family law and family proceedings we call these ‘Non-Molestation Orders’. Some people call them ‘Restraint Orders’. It places certain restrictions on your partner to try to prevent or limit any further violence.

Injunctions can be obtained from the court at very short notice, sometimes even on the same day and, to start the proceedings, your partner does not even need to be informed that you are seeking an injunction.

This procedure of obtaining an emergency injunction is called ‘ex-parte’, where your partner is totally unaware of the steps you are taking to protect yourself, until it has all been done.

This is particularly useful in situations where you are frightened of your partner or where they are actually being violent or threatening violence. Once obtained, an injunction can last for 12 months, but if the circumstances still exist, it can be extended for longer.

There are various different types of injunctions:

  • Occupation Orders:
    These are sometimes also called ‘ouster injunctions’. In effect these types of injunctions will exclude your partner from the property where you live.

    For example, you may be living together in the same property, you may have children who are settled there and going to school locally and you may have nowhere else to go to yourself; in such circumstances the courts can order that your abusive partner leaves the property immediately and not be permitted to return.

  • Non-molestation Injunction Orders:
    These injunctions prevent your partner from assaulting you and/or your children. It can also prevent your partner from coming within a certain area and can stop any other behaviour that is specific to your particular circumstances.

    These types of injunctions also stop your partner from trying to intimidate or threaten you through other people, such as getting someone else to do things for them.

It is possible to obtain an injunction which comprises a combination of both of the above. You must bear in mind that the courts look at the circumstances of each case individually and, orders are given to deal with your specific problems.

So if there are particular circumstances you are concerned about, these can often be addressed by the courts, within the injunction. For example you may have reason to be concerned for the safety of your children at school, or your own safety at your workplace.

These are all issues which we will discuss with you in the preparation stage of seeking an injunction and we will advise you of precisely what protection you can expect from the courts.

Applying for an Injunction

To apply for an injunction, you will have to go to court. However; unlike many other court hearings, injunction applications are held in ‘closed courts’.

This means that the court will be cleared of all people who are not directly involved with your case. It is also possible to ask for your address to be kept secret from your partner.

When the time comes for your partner to attend the court, adequate security can be provided to you in and around the court to ensure that you are not troubled.

Your partner will be kept away from you at all times in the court, where you are worried about their presence. We will always ensure that you are escorted to and from the court by a competent member of our staff.

You can rest assured that any bad behaviour by your partner in court will be dealt with forcefully by the presiding judge.

Ex-parte Injunctions

An ‘ex-parte’ injunction is where the application for the injunction is made to the court, without notice to your partner that you are taking this course of action.

Once an injunction is obtained in this manner, your partner must be served with the court papers and they will be ordered by the court to appear before a judge there, usually 7 or 14 days later, to say anything they may have in their defence.

Therefore, although your partner will not be at the first hearing, they will usually attend at the second hearing of the matter.

At this second hearing the court will decide the best manner in which to deal with the matter; again this all depends on the particular circumstances of your case, which we will be happy to discuss with you and advise upon.

Thereafter, the injunction will usually remain in force for 12 months and you will always have the option to seek a renewal of the injunction before it’s expiry, if necessary.

Breach of an injunction is an arrestable offence. This means that your partner will be immediately arrested with the slightest violation of the injunction.

A copy of such an injunction will be lodged at your local police station by us, and the police will know to keep a special lookout for you in the area. Any subsequent phone call by you to the police will automatically be dealt with as a priority.

Injunctions are a useful way of showing your abusive partner that you are no longer prepared to tolerate their behaviour.

Very often they serve as a wake-up call to abusive and threatening partners and make them realise that they have gone that one step too far and that you have now sought professional and effective help.

However; for an injunction to be fully effective, you must be willing to use it by calling the police where your partner disobeys the terms of the injunction.

If your partner does break the terms of the injunction, the judge has the power to send them to prison.

The law in this area is changing all the time and the latest Act of Parliament, The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, provides even greater scope for protection.

The new law makes a breach of a non-molestation order a criminal offence, thereby increasing the chances that your abusive partner will suffer the consequences of breaching an injunction and, it also provides the same protection to co-habiting and same-sex partners.

For an urgent appointment with a specialist solicitor to discuss Domestic Violence call 020 8401 7352