You may need a Non-Molestation Order (NMO) whether you are a man or woman who is subject to domestic abuse. Domestic abuse does not only mean behaviour between couples; it can include relatives or ex-partners.
Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence; it can also be psychological, sexual, emotional and financial abuse.
Legal aid is also available to make an application for a NMO, subject to financial eligibility.
What does a Non-Molestation Order do?
A NMO is a Court Order which prohibits a person from molesting an associated person or a relevant child. A NMO can only be applied for between “associated persons”.
Who is an associated person?
You are entitled to apply for a NMO if you and the other party:
- are or have been married to each other
- are or have been civil partners
- are cohabitants or former cohabitants otherwise than merely by reason of one being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder.
- are relatives such as the parent or step-parent, child or step-child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or first cousin (whether of the full blood or of the half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) of that person or of that person’s spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner, or any person who is cohabiting or has cohabited with the relative.
- have agreed to marry one another (whether or not that agreement has been terminated as long as the agreement has not been terminated more than three years ago)
- have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not that agreement has been terminated as long as the agreement has not been terminated more than three years ago)
- have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other that is or was of significant duration
- are a relation to any child and they are both either a parent or have parental responsibility for the child
- are parties to the same family court proceedings
Who is a relevant child?
- any child who is living with or might reasonably be expected to live with either party to the proceedings
- any child in relation to whom an order under the Adoption Act 1976, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 or the Children Act 1989 is in question in the proceedings
- any other child whose interests the court considers relevant
The application form is sent to the Court along with a statement in support, setting out details of what has happened and the allegations of molestation etc. In urgent circumstances, the application can be applied for without giving any notice of it to the other party. In that case the application would usually be considered by the Court at a hearing on the same day. The applicant and solicitor would attend Court together to make the urgent application.
Alternatively, if the application is made “on notice”, the applicant must serve the application form, statement in support and notice of proceedings on the other party giving him/her notice of the application with a hearing date. At the hearing, the other party is given an opportunity to respond to the application. If the application is not contested, it is the NMO will continue for a fixed period of time. If the other party decides to contest the application, the court will give directions for filing of further evidence and list a contested hearing. At the contested hearing, a Judge will hear evidence and decide whether the NMO should be made.
In deciding whether to grant the order, the Court will consider all the circumstances including the need to protect the health, well-being and the safety of the applicant or relevant child. They will also consider whether there is any evidence of molestation, the applicant or child needs protection and whether an order is needed to control the other person’s behaviour.
If you are successful
If a NMO is granted, you will be protected by the NMO once the other party has been served with a copy of the Order. It is a criminal offence to break the terms of a NMO. If the other person breaches the order the police will have power to arrest them and the allegations of breach will be dealt with by the criminal courts. Breach of an NMO should be reported to the police.