The Family Court can grant protective orders in the form of a Non-molestation Order or an Occupation Order to protect victims of domestic abuse.
A Non-Molestation Order will typically prohibit the “associated” perpetrator from using or threatening physical violence, intimidating, harassing, pestering, or communicating with the applicant and will also prevent the perpetrator from instructing or encouraging others to do any of these actions. It can also contain a Zonal Order, preventing the perpetrator from coming within a certain distance of the applicant, their home address and even their place of work. The order can also offer the same protection to children of the family.
The court can also grant an Occupation Order if the relevant legal test is met, which can declare or restrict the rights of a party to occupy a property. An Occupation Order can also extend to excluding the party from a specified area around the home if necessary. Occupation Orders can be applied for by spouses and cohabitants, whilst other ‘associated persons’ can only apply in specified circumstances.
Applicants can seek both protective orders by completing and filing a Form FL401 along with a supporting witness statement at their local court. In an emergency, both orders can be sought on an ex-parte basis, therefore without giving the perpetrator notice of the application until a protective order is in place.
As of 11 October 2021, the Form FL401 has been updated and the changes include:
- Setting out the legal test for a without notice application
- Providing information about serving the application
- Improved information about how to keep contact details confidential, including a specific instruction not to enter details of a refuge on the Form FL401 but instead to use Form C8 (confidential contact details), and
- Details of the special measures under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 that may be available to keep the applicant separate from the respondent when attending court
The new for FL401 can be accessed here. The previous version of form FL401 will still be accepted until 31 December 2021.
A supporting witness statement must be filed with the application in form FL401, where you can expand on the reasons why the protective order is required. Typically, you would include the first incident of abuse, the worst incident of abuse along with the most recent, bearing in mind that you will have an opportunity to present further evidence before the court at a later time. It can often be difficult to provide such information in sufficient detail within limited time. Helpfully, a new template supporting statement, form FL401T, has been created. The form FL401T is designed to help applicants provide all the information that is needed from a supporting statement. This will be particularly helpful for litigants in person, who may be doing this independently. The Form FL401T can be accessed here.
You must submit a statement along with your FL401 application, but you do not need to use this template if you would prefer to write your own.