If you have been served with a non-molestation order and wish to contest it, Monan Gozzett can help.
Receiving a non-molestation order can be very stressful and upsetting.
We would strongly recommend seeking legal representation as soon as possible (more on that later).
In addition, we have put together a list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to help you figure out what to do next.
Do Not Breach The Non-Molestation Order
The non-molestation order becomes effective as soon as you become aware of it.
Whether or not you agree with the contents you must not breach it.
Read the order carefully so you understand what it requires, challenging it will come later. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence and can result in a custodial sentence, so take notice of what it says you can’t do.
Find Out When The Next Court Hearing Is
It is usual for the order to be made “ex-parte” in the first instance.
That means, without notice to you.
This comes as a real shock to many of our clients whose first reaction is disbelief that such a draconian order can be made without the Court having even heard their version of events.
The Court does have this power and a further hearing should have been set up usually within 14 days of the order.
If you want to contest the non-molestation order it is crucial that you attend and are properly prepared for that next hearing.
You may wish to instruct specialist solicitors with experience in this area so that they can represent you at that hearing and properly put your case.
It is important that you are fully prepared for that hearing. The Court will be making further orders and will proceed in your absence if you do not attend.
Contesting The Non-Molestation Order
You need to carefully consider how you wish to challenge the order. What are you trying to achieve?
This is not a black and white situation where one party wins and the other loses.
Most of our clients are understandably furious that their ex-partner has successfully obtained a Court order based on lies.
They want to fight the order with all they have so that they can clear their name and so that everyone will know that their ex-partner is a liar.
In reality, however, it is not so simple. There are many factors to be considered so that a sensible, less emotive approach can be taken.
Careful consideration should be given as to if and how to contest the order.
There are often circumstances where it may not be appropriate to oppose the order, or it may be possible to give undertakings to the court (a promise not to do things) on the basis that you do not accept the allegations made by your ex-partner.
For example, there may be linked criminal matters for which you are subject to police or court bail conditions similar to those in the non-molestation order. Or you may not wish to see your ex-partner and therefore not find the terms of the order particularly difficult to comply with.
It may be possible to avoid a contested hearing which is likely to be stressful and increase animosity between you and your ex-partner.
If children are involved, it is important to prioritise them from the outset and consider how your relationship with them could be affected by your approach to these proceedings.
Gather Your Evidence
You need to gather your evidence, even if you are not contesting the non-molestation order but agreeing to it on the basis that you do not accept the allegations.
Your ex-partner is likely to have filed their own statement and could have included medical and police evidence too.
What do you have that could challenge what they are saying?
The court will consider the case on the civil standard of proof. This means that your ex-partner will have to prove their case on the balance of probabilities - that means the balance need only tip in their favour by 51%.
If you are unable to support your case without any independent evidence, it will make it more difficult for you to oppose their application.
Seek Specialist Legal Advice
You should speak to a solicitor as soon as you are aware of the non-molestation order.
The next hearing will likely be within a very short period of time and urgent action will be required to consider how best to approach your case and allow time to gather and file the necessary evidence on your behalf.
We have over 30 years’ experience of handling the most complex and high-profile family and criminal cases and frequently work with the country’s leading King’s Counsel.
We can provide comprehensive advice in respect of both matters, rather than each being dealt with in isolation.
Find out more about how we could help you contest a non-molestation order.
You can contact our team using the details below.