5 July 2022

How can I stop my ex-partner from harassing me?

By Maria Endall, Family Solicitor, Hayes+ Storr.

Domestic abuse can impact men and women, of any age or race and is seen across all parts of society. A non-molestation order can provide a great comfort to someone who has bravely taken the step to leave their abusive partner.

We often see clients who are frightened, perhaps having been cut off from family and friends, and having endured abuse for such a long period of time that their own self-worth is diminished.

Obtaining a non-molestation order can prevent a former partner contacting you again and can give you the breathing space to rebuild your life.

What is a non-molestation order?

A non-molestation order is a type of injunction. It is an order from the court that forbids a person you know from threatening or using violence against you. It bans them from pestering, molesting, or harassing you, or from encouraging any other person to do so. It can also order that they must not come within a certain radius of your home or even your place of work, and/or from contacting you by telephone, email, social media or in person.

Who can be stopped?

A non-molestation order can be obtained against a partner, a former partner and other relatives too. The legislation states you must be associated to the person you are seeking the order against. The following list provides examples of who would be considered an associated person:

• your spouse or partner, a former spouse or cohabitee;
• someone you have been engaged to marry;
• people living in the same house as you (but excluding tenants, lodgers or employees);
• the parent of your child;
• a relative; or
• a person involved in the same family court proceedings as you.

If you are unsure if you would fall within one of the above categories then please contact us for advice, as alternative options may be available.

What are the grounds for a non-molestation order?

When deciding whether to grant a non-molestation order, the court will consider all relevant circumstances including the need to protect you and any children, which can include a wide range of abusive behaviours. For example, this could be sexual abuse, financial abuse, pestering, verbal abuse, controlling or coercive behaviour.

Often abusive behaviour can be ongoing for so long that it can almost seem normalised. One of our expert family lawyers will take the time to discuss with you the nature of your relationship and look at all aspects of how you have been treated.

What happens if a non-molestation order is breached?

Sadly, not all non-molestation orders are respected by the person they are made against. It is therefore always important, first and foremost to take practical steps to protect your safety. You may want to look at installing cameras around your house or a panic button. You should consider changing the locks to your house if your former partner previously had keys. You may even want to let a few neighbours know to be on the lookout for your former partner.

If a non-molestation order is breached, then you should contact the police immediately. They will arrest your former partner if they have breached the order, as this constitutes a criminal offence. The current punishment is up to five years of imprisonment. You should also let your lawyer know, as it may also be possible to consider an alternative route of seeking their committal via a civil process if the police do not prosecute.

For further information, please contact Maria Endall in the family law team on 01328 863231 or email maria.endall@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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