How can I stop my former partner from threatening or harassing me?

Unacceptable behaviour from a former partner, such as threats of violence, stalking or harassment, do not have to be tolerated.

Ruth Jackson, family law Barrister at Forrester Sylvester Mackett explains how you could get a court order called an ‘injunction’ to protect you and your family from harm.

Types of injunction

There are a number of injunctions that can be granted, including:

  • a non-molestation order;
  • an occupation order; and
  • a prohibited steps order.

Depending on your circumstances you may need to apply for more than one order.

If your partner fails to do what they have been ordered to do by an injunction they will have committed an offence.

Non-molestation order

A non-molestation order is the most common type of injunction in family cases and can be used to prevent your former partner from doing certain things, like physically assaulting you, harassing you, or coming near your home or place of work.  It can cover a wide variety of actions, such as contact by text or posting comments on social media.

To benefit from a non-molestation order, you and your partner must either:

  • be married to each other;
  • have previously been married to each other;
  • have lived together; or
  • have a child together.

An order will only be made if the court is satisfied that the actions of your former partner are having an adverse impact on your physical or mental well-being or that of a child and that the protection of the court is required.

A non-molestation order can last for up to 12 months but can be extended beyond that if necessary.

Occupation order

An occupation order dictates who can live in the family home and can be used to temporarily exclude your former partner from the property you occupy.  During the time the order is in force, your partner will not be allowed to enter the family home.  Because of the dramatic impact such an order may have on your partner, the court will only take this step if it considers it to be absolutely necessary.

An occupation order can be made for up to 12 months, but can be extended beyond that if necessary. Because it is a temporary order, it does not affect property ownership rights.

Prohibited steps order

A prohibited steps order can be used to stop your former partner doing a number of things concerning your child, such as turning up at their school unannounced or trying to remove them from your care.  The court will decide how long the order should last for, but it will not normally extend beyond your child’s sixteenth birthday.

Do I need an injunction?

If you are concerned about the behaviour of your former partner it is important that you take legal advice as soon as possible.  Your solicitor will discuss all options with you and tell you if they think an injunction is needed.  In some cases, intervention from a solicitor can persuade your partner to agree voluntarily to stay away from you or to stop behaving in a certain way, and if this promise is made to a judge and is subsequently broken it is possible for the court to take further action.

For a confidential discussion about injunctions, or any other family law matter, please contact our family team.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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