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How do I protect my family after leaving an abusive relationship?

Domestic abuse is an incredibly hard thing to deal with emotionally, so sometimes the legal elements can seem like a secondary concern. Domestic abuse solicitors are specially trained and used to handling cases with empathy and sensitivity. They can help you make sure that everything is in place for you to be able to move on with your life and have a fresh start.

What is a non-molestation order UK?

A non-molestation order UK can be given to you if you are the victim of domestic abuse. They are a form of protection that could help you and your family live and feel safer.

A non-molestation order is a type of injunction that ensures that your former partner does not harm you or your family members. Harm in this context includes any type of physical and psychological abuse, such as:

  • Physical violence
  • Harassment
  • Pestering
  • Threatening or intimidating behaviour

Non-molestation orders can be filed at the same time as an occupation order, if required.

Who can apply for a non-molestation order?

To be eligible for a non-molestation order, that individual needs to be an ‘associated person.’ This means that they must be connected to you in one of the following ways:

  • You were previously married or in a civil partnership together
  • You have lived together
  • You have a child together
  • You are related
  • You have shared an intimate relationship with them over a significant time period
  • You have been involved in family proceedings together, such as a divorce or a child contact arrangement order

What protection will this give?

When applying to the court for a non-molestation order, you can request that it includes one or both of the following:

  • The ‘respondent’ (the person who you are filing the order against) is prohibited from harming you, and /or
  • The ‘respondent’ is prohibited from harming your children

Victims of domestic abuse typically seek both, especially when the individual is particularly aggressive or violent towards them.

Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence. If your ex-partner violates the terms of their order, then they will be arrested and could face up to five years in prison. These orders can last for as long as necessary, however they normally last between six and twelve months.

What is a child arrangement order?

In addition to the difficult process of taking out a non-molestation order, the breakdown of a relationship that involves children may also mean that legal arrangements for them are needed. A child arrangement order may be needed. There are a number of different orders that solicitors can help you with, including:

  • Residence orders

These are legally binding order between you and your ex-partner that will help you to finalise the agreements on where your children will live.

  • Contact orders

These are legally binding order which will set out how much contact you and your ex will have with your children.

  • Prohibited steps orders

These are legally binding orders that will prevent either of you from taking particular action with your children, such as being able to take them abroad.

  • Specific issue orders

Specific issue orders will help you to resolve a specific dispute, such as which school your child or children should attend.

  • Parental responsibility agreements

These agreements protect your legal rights to be involved in important decisions about your children’s health, education and welfare.

  • Agreements on change of name

Agreements you can set out with your ex when either of you want to change your child’s name.

  • Agreements on international or national relocation

Agreements helping you settle disputes about moving children abroad or to another area of the country with the other parent.

When leaving a difficult and abusive relationship, it can be hard to know what to do first when it comes to legal issues. It is best to seek out the very advice so that you can move forward with peace of mind.

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