What is an Occupation Order?
An occupation order is an order that determines who can remain in occupation of a property or regulates the which parts of a property that a person can use. An occupation order can also be applied for at the same time as a Non Molestation order and is particularly useful for people who are victims of domestic abuse but also share a home with their abuser.
Who can apply?
In order to apply for an occupation order, you must be an associated person to the Respondent. An associated person is defined under Section 62(3) of the Family Law Act 1996 and includes the following people:
- People married to each other;
- People who are or have been civil partners of each other;
- Ex cohabitants or former cohabitants;
- People that live or have lived in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder;
- People who have agreed to marry one another (whether or not that agreement has been terminated);
- People who have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration;
- People who have entered into a civil partnership agreement (as defined by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004) (whether or not that agreement has been terminated);
- People who have children together;
- People who are parties to the same family proceedings.
What criteria does the court apply?
The Balance of Harm Test
This test assesses whether the applicant or any relevant children is likely to suffer significant harm caused by the Respondent’s behaviour, if the court do not make an order in comparison to whether the Respondent or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm if the court do make an order and whether this harm is greater than the harm suffered by the Applicant or child. Therefore, the court are required to balance the needs of the respective parties before determining whether an order should be made or not.
s.33 (6) Family Law Act 1996
When determining whether an occupation order should be made, the Court must consider all the circumstances of the case, which include:
- Housing needs and resources of the parties and any children.
- Financial resources of the parties
- The likely effect of the order (or no order) on the health, safety, and well-being of the parties and/or any relevant child
- Conduct of the parties in relation to each other
What protection does an Occupation Order offer?
An occupation order regulates the family home by ordering specific terms such as:
- Preventing a Respondent from being within 100 metres of the home
- Removing the Respondent from the home
- Suspending the Respondent’s right to return to the home within the stipulated duration of the order
Generally, an occupation order can be granted for a period of 6-12 months.
If you believe that you required the protection of an Occupation Order, please do not hesitate to contact the Family and Relationships department here at Glazer Delmar, who can advise you and assist with carrying out your next steps. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 02082990021