What can be done if you are concerned you may be a Victim of Domestic Violence?
Sadly Domestic Violence has a devastating effect on families and individuals. Here at CK Rafferty Solicitors we have extensive experience in assisting victims of domestic abuse and guide them through the process and assist them in availing of all legal remedies available to protect them from abusive relationships. We offer a confidential and safe space to anyone seeking advice.
Victims of domestic violence are offered protections under the Family Homes and Domestic Violence (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. The Order allows victims to apply to Court for an Non Molestation Order. The Order can also assist in regulating who can live in the family home by virtue of an Occupation Order, this is useful in assisting to regulate who resides in the home after relationship breakdown.
What is a Non-Molestation Order?
This is an Order containing either or both of the following provisions:-
(i)a provision prohibiting the Respondent from molesting another person who is associated with the Respondent
(ii)a provision prohibiting the Respondent from molesting a relevant child
‘Molestation’ includes the use of violence, the threat of violence, pestering, harassing and intimidation. It also includes procuring or insighting or assisting another person to ‘molest’ another individual
Who can apply for a Non Molestation Order?
An ‘associated person’ can. This is defined in the order as follows:
(a) they are married
(b)they have been married
(c)they are cohabitants (i.e. not married but living together)
(d)they are former co-habitants
(e)they live in the same household
(f)they have lived in the same household
(g)they are relatives Relatives include the following:- Father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson, granddaughter Of a person or of that person’s spouse or former spouse and brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew
If you do not fall in to any of these categories of ‘associated persons’ you cannot apply for a Non Molestation Order but other remedies may be available to you such as a applying for a Protection From Harassment Order in the County Court. We will advise you accordingly.
What is an Occupation Order ?
This is an order which can declare, confer or regulate occupation rights to a family home.
When can the Court act?
If the dwelling house either:
(a)is the home of the applicant and of another person with whom he or she is associated or
(b)has been the home of the applicant and of another person with whom he or she is associated
(c)was at any time intended by the applicant and a person with whom he or she is associated to be their home.
When must the Court make an Order?
The Court must make an Order if it appears that the applicant or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm attributable to the conduct of the Respondent OR if an Order is NOT made unless it appears that:
(a)the Respondent or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm if the Order is made and
(b)the harm likely to be suffered by the Respondent or the child in that event is as great as, or greater than, the harm attributable to conduct of the Respondent which is likely to be suffered by the applicant or child if the order is NOT made.
The above is known as “the balance of harm test”
In an emergency, an application can be made to the court on an ‘ex parte’ basis, the other party would not be in Court and they would not be aware of the application. Any ex parte order would be granted for a short period of time and the matter would be adjourned to allow for the other party to make representations to the court in their defence.