Disputing a Non-Molestation Order
Have you received notice of a Non-Molestation Order from the family court? Our team of expert family law solicitors can help you take action to defend your reputation.
Having a former partner or relative bring Non-Molestation proceedings against you is a distressing situation. It is easy to get caught up in the emotional aspects of the case, particularly if you feel that the applicant is lying or presenting evidence that has been taken completely out of context.
The Order may even have been made ‘ex-parte’ which means you were not able to defend yourself or even knew about the application until the Order arrived on your doorstep.
Our highly skilled divorce and family law solicitors have decades of experience handling complex domestic violence defence cases on behalf of individuals across the UK. We know how incredibly frustrating and frightening this situation can be due to the potential damage to your reputation and the risk of criminal proceedings if you breach the Order. We can help you dispute a Non-Molestation Order and have a strong track record of getting such Orders successfully discharged.
We can help you dispute a Non-Molestation Order
We understand the difficulties having a Non-Molestation Order made against you can present, particularly if you have children with your former partner as the Order could threaten your contact arrangements.
Seeking legal advice early is your best chance of protecting your reputation and preventing you from being arrested and facing criminal prosecution if you inadvertently breach the Order.
When you instruct us, we will provide in-depth advice about your options for making a Non-Molestation Order appeal and your prospects for success so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
We can also help you gather reliable evidence to rebut the allegations of domestic violence by the applicant and provide strong representation at any court hearings.
Non-Molestation Order FAQs
What is a Non-Molestation Order?
A Non-Molestation Order is a court order used to protect a victim of domestic violence (referred to as the applicant) from a specific person – usually a former partner or a close relative.
The Order can prevent the subject (referred to as the respondent) from doing things like approaching the victim and going to their home.
Why would my partner apply for a Non-Molestation Order?
Non-Molestation Orders are only intended to protect victims of domestic violence, whether it be from physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, or coercive control.
However, there is sometimes a risk of a Non-Molestation Order being made even where the allegations of domestic violence are not true or have been exaggerated.
For example, an applicant may apply for a Non-Molestation Order if they perceive the situation in a different way to the respondent or because they think they will get a better deal out of financial arrangements upon divorce or arrangements for children.
The courts always require evidence before they will make a Non-Molestation Order. However, many applications are made ‘ex-parte’, meaning the respondent is not given an opportunity to defend themselves before the Order is made. This is to allow genuine victims of domestic violence to get an urgent Order and immediate protection from their abuser.
In these cases, the court will always list another hearing around 7-14 days after the initial Order is made. This is the respondent’s chance to dispute the Order.
How do I challenge a Non-Molestation Order?
The first thing to do is to contact a specialist family law solicitor, especially if the Order was made ex-parte as there will only be a short period of time between the granting of the Order and the court hearing. Your solicitor will be best placed to advise you on what to do next and how to dispute the Order.
Your solicitor will draft a statement setting out your version of events and providing evidence, for example, texts, emails, bank statements and anything else that backs up your side of the story.
You have a few options for addressing the Non-Molestation Order:
Defend the case and ask the court to rule that the allegations are false
You will need to attend court with the applicant where the judge will consider your statement and make a decision. If you are successful, the Order will be discharged. However, if you are unsuccessful, there could be negative effects on any other legal proceedings regarding your children or finances upon divorce/civil partnership dissolution. We will always provide detailed advice about your prospects of success.
Provide an ‘undertaking’
An undertaking will state how you intend to behave going forward and will usually have the same wording as the Non-Molestation Order. For example, you will agree not to have any contact with the applicant for a fixed period of time (usually around 6 months).
Providing an undertaking does not mean that you admit to the applicant’s allegations. The point of providing an undertaking is simply to avoid the stress and cost of attending a court hearing with your former partner where you will both have to discuss allegations of domestic violence.
Can I see my children if there is a Non-Molestation Order?
A Non-Molestation Order does not automatically mean you cannot see your children. However, the nature of such Orders often makes contact arrangements more difficult. For example, if you are not allowed to approach your former partner and the children primarily live with them, picking up or dropping off your children can become challenging. We have also seen cases where a person applies for a Non-Molestation Order with the intention of preventing their children’s other parent from having any contact.
These will all be issues that the court takes into account and we can help you navigate difficult circumstances while the Order is in place. For example, by helping you negotiate an arrangement with your former partner whereby you have contact with your children with safeguards in place to prevent you accidentally breaching the Order.
The most important thing to remember is that the court will never allow you to be deprived of access to your children unless it is in their best interests (and typically, it is considered best for a child to have healthy, regular contact with both parents).
We can also help you apply for a range of court orders to help you sort out arrangements for children if your former partner will not cooperate, such as Child Arrangements Orders and Specific Issue Orders.
For more general information about our children law services, please visit our Child Law Solicitors page.
Do I have to comply with the Non-Molestation Order while I’m contesting it?
Yes. While the Order is still in place, you need to adhere to its terms, even if you are disputing the allegations behind it. Failing to follow the Order could have negative consequences. First, because it will reflect badly on you when your case returns to court and second, because breaching a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence that could result in your arrest.
What happens at a Non-Molestation Order hearing?
The court hearing will be private, meaning only you, the applicant, and your respective legal representatives can attend.
At the hearing, the judge will consider the applicant’s statement and evidence and your statement and evidence. You will be given the opportunity to cross-examine the applicant and they in turn will cross-examine you.
Once the judge has heard all the evidence, they will make a decision such as:
- To issue an Order (or uphold an Order if one has already been made, either in its original terms or as varied)
- To dismiss the applicant’s application or discharge the Order
- To require you to make an undertaking
- To adjourn the hearing so that the applicant can gather more information (they may make an interim Order until the next hearing)
What is the cost of contesting a Non-Molestation Order?
There is no court fee for disputing a Non-Molestation Order or application.
Our fees will depend on the exact circumstances of your case. However, we always endeavour to keep our costs proportionate whilst offering the highest quality of legal advice. We offer a free first appointment to new clients so we can discuss your options and available funding arrangements. We will always provide a costs estimate at the beginning of your case so you can proceed in full control of your overall spend.
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