The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) is a free, fast, emergency injunction service for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and violence.  Our service allows anyone who has recently been threatened or subjected to domestic abuse to apply for an emergency court injunction. 

NCDV specialises in giving support and legal assistance in relation to applying and obtaining three civil court orders.  A Non-Molestation Injunction, an Occupation Order and a Prohibited Steps Order.  However, predominantly we are asked to assist in obtaining non-molestation injunctions.  NCDV covers the whole of England and is by far the largest provider of this type of support in England.

Domestic Abuse is a serious social problem for Britain, afflicting many victims and their families, causing untold misery and disruption, blighting the educational and job prospects of future generations, and costing the UK economy c £60 bn annually

For the 12-month period ending in March 2020, there were an estimated 2.3 million adults aged between 16 and 74 years, who experienced domestic abuse.  Of these, 1.6 million were women and 757,000 were men.

NCDV received over 95,000 referrals from the police and domestic support agencies in 2020 and helped secure just under 10,000 non molestation orders.  Just over 4,100 of these victims could not obtain legal aid or afford a solicitor to represent them for various different reasons and would have undoubtedly otherwise fallen through the gap and gone unprotected.

Yet despite all these referrals for our services, there are still many thousands of victims and survivors, as well as professionals who have never heard of NCDV and don’t know what these court orders are or how they can help protect someone.

So, what is a Non-Molestation Injunction?

A Non-Molestation Injunction is a court order which protects you from someone who has harassed, threatened or used abuse and/or violence against you or your children.  This type of order comes from the Civil or Family court.  It is different from a Restraining Order which is granted in a Criminal Court, although the meaning of the two orders are similar. 

It prohibits a person from using threatening behaviour, harassment, coercive controlling behaviour and violence towards the person that is applying for the order.  There does not have to have been physical abuse to be granted a non-molestation order.  Generally, the order will contain restrictions such as:

  • The abusive person must not go within a certain distance of the applicant’s home or surrounding area. It may also restrict the abusive person from going near the applicant’s workplace.
  • The abusive person must not contact the applicant by any means such as; telephone, text message, whatsapp, social media etc. There could also be a restriction on contacting any children, save through children’s services or a solicitor.
  • The abusive person must not intimidate the applicant, or use or threaten violence. In most cases the order will also say that the abusive person also must not instruct any other person to intimidate, harass and threaten or use violence against the applicant.

A Non-Molestation Injunction can be tailored to fit that particular applicants circumstances and a person can apply for one of these orders against:

  • A spouse or former married partner
  • Someone the person was previously engaged to
  • A direct and indirect relative
  • An individual who the person is living with
  • The other parent of your child or children

A breach of a Non-Molestation Injunction is in itself a criminal offence for which a person could be punished by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years.

What is an Occupation Order?

The general aim of an occupation order is to exclude someone from a property or family home.  However, the order does not solely exclude someone from the home.  It can be tailored to meet the applicant’s need and/or circumstances.

An occupation order ‘regulates’ the occupation of a property.  There orders are granted in very serious cases as they can exclude someone from the home in which they are legally entitled to live in i.e. if they jointly own the property or they are the sole or joint named person on a tenancy.  Excluding a person from their home could render the person homeless and for this reason there are very strict ‘tests’ for such and order to be granted.

In order to apply for an Occupation order, the applicant must be able to satisfy three requirements.  These are:

  • The applicant must have a legal right to occupy the property. This includes having ‘matrimonial home rights’, where they may not be named as an owner or tenant but by virtue of marriage and occupation of the property as their home.
  • The home is or has been at some time, the home of both parties.
  • The parties must be ‘associated’ i.e. spouse/civil partner/cohabitee/relative/people who have agreed to marry or have had an intimate personal relationship with one another of a significant duration.

The court will consider the balance of harm test.  The court have a duty to balance the harm that will be suffered by the applicant and any children should the order not be granted.  If it is decided that there could be significant harm to the applicant and any children if no such order is in place, then the Occupation order must be granted.  In making this decision the court will have regard to the housing needs of the other party to the proceedings i.e. the abusive person.

Breach of an Occupation is not a criminal offence unless the order has a ‘power of arrest’ attached to it.  Breaching an Occupation order with a power of arrest attached could lead to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of up to £5,000.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order is a court order which stops a person (usually a parent), from a certain activity relating to a child or children.  It also stops the parent from exercising their parental responsibility.

In cases where there is or has been domestic abuse, Prohibited Steps Orders are usually granted when the abusive person has perhaps threatened to remove the child or children from the country of residence.  They can also be ordered where there is a concern that the child or children’s name may be changed.  The court’s paramount consideration will always be the child’s welfare.  A Prohibited Steps Order can not  usually be granted in respect of a child or children over the age of 16 years or for a child or children who are in the care of the local authority.

A breach of a Prohibited Steps Order is contempt of court.  If a person is found to be in contempt of court, they could go to prison for up to 2 years, get a fine, or both.

If you are reading this and think that one of these court orders could help protect you and/or any children you may have please get in contact with NCDV.  There are various ways in which you can do this:

  • Online – please complete the referral form at
  • Mobile App – please download the free mobile app on Apple or Android
  • Email us – send us an email to [email protected]
  • Call us – call us on 0800 970 2070