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Occupation Orders and What They Mean

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 14 Jul 2018 |
 
Occupation Order Injunction Partner

An ‘Occupation Order’ is a court order that protects someone who is being abused by their partner or another close relative. It is in effect an injunction, which orders someone to do, or not to do, something. Occupation orders were created by the Family Law Act 1996, Part IV. If you and someone you live with have fallen out, you can apply to the court to get an occupation order against them. This order decides who should stay and who should go, and can prevent your partner from entering both your home and the surrounding area. This is an ideal remedy for those who do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner. It is also a remedy for those who have left your home because of domestic violence or abuse, but want to return to live at your home without the person abusing you.

If the person against whom the order is made subsequently breaches it, it may be possible to have them arrested. That said, an occupation order is not necessarily the right thing in all cases. In some situations, it can make things worse rather than better. In others, the order may make very little difference.

Who Can Apply?

In order to be able to obtain an occupation order against someone you have to be ‘associated’ with them. This means that you need to be related in some way. These are:

  • married people
  • civil partners
  • people who live together, or used to
  • people who live in the same household
  • people who are related to you
  • your fiancé, fiancée or someone you used to be engaged to
  • the parent of your child, or a person who has parental responsibility of your child
  • someone with whom you are in an intimate relationship, which has been going on for some time
  • someone against whom you have already started family court proceedings
If none of these apply to you, and you are being threatened, stalked, harassed, or abused after a relationship has ended you can still apply for a civil injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It is also possible, where criminal proceedings have already commenced, to apply for a restraining order at the same time. This is the case even if the criminal proceedings do not result in a conviction.

Costs

Unless you are on certain benefits you may have to pay to take out a civil injunction. Beware of ‘do it yourself’ websites that offer you an injunction for less than £100. Whilst this may seem like a cheap and easy option, it can be easy to make mistakes and you might not end up with a valid order. If you think that you may benefit from legal advice, make sure you go to an experienced family law solicitor.

Property and Occupation Orders

In order to be able to apply for an occupation order you must be able to show that you are legally entitled to stay in the property, either as a tenant or owner of the property. In the alternative, you need to be able to show that you are married to or living with, the person who owns or rents the property, and that person must be of the opposite sex.

When you get an injunction, it is normally for a specified period of time such as one year or six months. It is possible to renew the order. It is also possible to get an indefinite order which remains in place until it is taken away. An occupation order can only be extended beyond a one year period if you are legally entitled to live in the property (owner, co-owner, tenant or because you were married to the owner or tenant.)

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[Add a Comment]
My husband went to Ghana to set up a business 4 yrs ago. 2 yrs ago, he called me on phone stating that he has married. From 2014, I have lived in our flat alone paying rent and council tax but have been coming to this country without coming to his marital home. 3 weeks ago he came to the flat with 2 of his children while I was at work to changed the main entrance door lock. I couldn't get access to the flat when I came from work It was reported to the Police who were really useless, telling me that, he is the sole tenant and could evict me while I am still the legal wife. The council (Sanctuary- Hackney) are also the same as the Police - even more useless to help me. All my stuff is in the flat and cannot get access to even get a dress. I need emergency advice please!! Mercy
N/A - 14-Jul-18 @ 1:40 AM
Arun - Your Question:
My ex took out a occupation order and is registered on the land registry. I own the property and have small mortgage on it. It’s been 7 years since our split. It now transpired that our marriage was invalid. Therefore does she still have the right to occupy the property? And how can I remove the order? Also how long does an order last?

Our Response:
Much would depend upon whether you have children and your ex is the primary carer of the children. If so, the fact your marriage is invalid would not apply. You may need to seek legal advice to answer your questions fully as the information given is too vague to answer your question fully.
DivorceResource - 30-Apr-18 @ 2:14 PM
My ex took out a occupation order and is registered on the land registry. I own the property and have small mortgage on it. It’s been 7 years since our split. It now transpired that our marriage was invalid. Therefore does she still have the right to occupy the property? And how can I remove the order? Also how long does an order last?
Arun - 28-Apr-18 @ 11:28 AM
Ryan- Your Question:
Hi, My wife walked out our property taking the kids with her claiming abuse, which she has fabricated. She is now agreeing to shared care for our children.I have 2 queries1. Can she attempt to get an order against me on her word alone? ( no proof no police reports nothing as it’s fabticated)2. Is she allowed to enter the property and remove furniture?Any advice would be greatly appreciated Ryan

Our Response:
Before you and your ex would be allowed to apply to court, you would have to consider mediation first before court can be considered, unless your ex cites domestic violence and refuses to attend mediation. You would then have to apply to court. However, if your ex is agreeing to shared care, then you may wish to make an agreement via mediation. If both you and your ex are named on the title of the property, both of you have rights over and to the property. This means your ex can enter the property and take belongings. mediation may help here to in order to come to a mutual separation agreement. Or one can be drawn up via a solicitor. However, there are free templates available online if you think you can come to an amicable resolution between you. Quite often when parents separate, there is a lot of anger and distrust. When emotions are running high it is difficult to be amicable with your ex. However, as the mother of your children she is always going to be in your life and you need to find a way to get on. As well as seeking mediation, you both need to commit to putting your children first.
DivorceResource - 8-Feb-18 @ 2:07 PM
Hi, My wife walked out our property taking the kids with her claiming abuse, which she has fabricated. She is now agreeing to shared care for our children. I have 2 queries 1. Can she attempt to get an order against me on her word alone? ( no proof no police reports nothing as it’s fabticated) 2. Is she allowed to enter the property and remove furniture? Any advice would be greatly appreciated Ryan
Ryan - 7-Feb-18 @ 9:46 PM
Hello. My wife has applied for an occupation order citing domestic abuse. She is currently at her parents which is minutes away,with our two children. Their house is adequate to accommodate my wife and the children when there.Now she wants the house, and me out. There are no safeguarding issues regarding the children. I have no where to live if the court decides in her favour. I will need a home to have my children sleep when with me. Is it likely the court will decide in my wife's favour? All advice is greatly appreciated
Megane - 21-Nov-17 @ 8:12 PM
Hi I won a non molestation order against my ex but he won the occupancy order as he has mental health issues . It was a joint tenancy on private rented property. The estate agents now saying to not let me view any of their properties as a result . Will this be the same for other estate agents is it like being blacklisted
Kelz - 25-Oct-17 @ 1:43 PM
Haze9229 - Your Question:
Hi, my father is planning on submitting an application for an occupation order and non-molestation order on behalf of himself and my younger sister (14 years old). This is due to my mother being abusive and violent towards our whole family due to alcoholism and assumed undiagnosed mental health issues. I have 2 questions:1. Can the court also encourage/order her to seek help or treatment to rehabilitate her?2. If she is ordered to leave the family home, is she expected to find her own alternative accommodation? We still love her and don't want her to be homeless but can no longer tolerate the abuse and cannot allow a 14 year old child to be subjected to this treatment any longer.Thanks in advance for any advice.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. It is understandable that you feel torn with regards to your love for your mum and the protection of your sister. Have you thought of speaking to anyone directly from the likes of Mind? Please see link here. Its advisers may be able to offer guidance on matters such as this. Unfortunately, we cannot offer any further information, as your mum must first want to try to seek help for herself by seeking advice from her GP etc. If your mum has friends or other family, they may offer to help and put her up for a period of time until she can sort her issues out.
DivorceResource - 20-Oct-17 @ 2:09 PM
Hi, my father is planning on submitting an application for an occupation order and non-molestation order on behalf of himself and my younger sister (14 years old). This is due to my mother being abusive and violent towards our whole family due to alcoholism and assumed undiagnosed mental health issues. I have 2 questions: 1. Can the court also encourage/order her to seek help or treatment to rehabilitate her? 2. If she is ordered to leave the family home, is she expected to find her own alternative accommodation? We still love her and don't want her to be homeless but can no longer tolerate the abuse and cannot allow a 14 year old child to be subjected to this treatment any longer. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Haze9229 - 19-Oct-17 @ 10:40 AM
janedunford - Your Question:
Hi there, I live in a Housing Association property with my Husband. I want a divorce as he is an alcoholic, he refuses to work or even look for employment, he is verbally abusive, smashes things up in the house when drunk and is making my life a complete nightmare. I am constantly having to give him money. I pay for most of the bills. He buys shopping sometimes but it is mostly alcohol. I want a divorce but he says that he will not leave the property. I am more than capable of paying and taking care of the property on my own but is it true that he can remain in the property even though he does not contribute and behaves in an unacceptable manner? Please help with any information you may have - I'm at my wit's end. thanks you

Our Response:
In addition to the information in the article, you can see more via the Money Advice Service link here which should help answer your question.
DivorceResource - 30-Jun-17 @ 9:50 AM
Hi there, i live in a Housing Association property with my Husband.I want a divorce as he is an alcoholic, he refuses to work or even look for employment, he is verbally abusive, smashes things up in the house when drunk and is making my life a complete nightmare.I am constantly having to give him money.I pay for most of the bills.He buys shopping sometimes but it is mostly alcohol. I want a divorce but he says that he will not leave the property.I am more than capable of paying and taking care of the property on my own but is it true that he can remain in the property even though he does not contribute and behaves in an unacceptable manner?Please help with any information you may have - I'm at my wit's end.thanks you
janedunford - 29-Jun-17 @ 12:22 AM
@muz - you would have to take it back to court. But quite often occupation orders have conditions attached, such as she can stay there if she lives alone etc. But ultimately it would be up to the court to decide and you will have to re-apply.
DivorceResource - 17-Mar-15 @ 2:24 PM
My ex has occupation order for 12 months.if shes had another mans child can i get her to sell house
muz - 14-Mar-15 @ 7:47 PM
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