Occupation Orders – Where Do I Start?


You may be in a position where you lived with someone but had to leave out of fear, or you fear for your safety if you are under the same roof. You may be wondering what your options are and what you can do in this situation. For many, an occupation order may be the answer.

Occupation Order - Returning to your Home

What is an Occupation Order?

An occupation order regulates who can live in your home and can sometimes restrict movement in the surrounding area or parts of a property. Not only can they enforce rights that you already have, they can give them or even put an end to them. You may, for example wish to return to a property whilst excluding an ex-partner from living there.

There are many reasons why both men and women would wish to apply for an occupation order, however they are only granted by the Court in very limited circumstances where domestic abuse is occurring. Some of these reasons include no longer feeling safe living with your partner or having already left the house due to violence you may want to return without the abuser being there.

How Do I Get One?

Similar to a non-molestation order, if you are associated to the person you can apply for an occupation order. This definition can include spouses former and current, cohabitants former and current, those living together, people who are engaged, parents of a child etc

Before the Court can make occupation orders, they need to take into consideration your marital status and whether you have any rights over the property, such as whether you own the property, rent it or merely live there.

Occupation orders usually last for a specific length of time and are to be seen as a short term measure e.g. if you have suffered domestic violence and you need time to assess what your next move should be.

What Will the Court Consider?

The Court will consider a number of things when they are assessing what type of occupation order you should receive and for how long. Below we have listed a number of things that will be taken into consideration by the Court.

  • The nature of your relationship
  • Any children you have together
  • The housing needs of you and any children you have
  • Your financial resources
  • What the order could do for your wellbeing, safety and health
  • How long you have lived together
  • Any other proceedings that might be ongoing that are related

Can I Make the Application Without the Other Person Knowing?

Yes, you can make the application without giving the other person any notice (ex- parte) if by informing them you or your children would be put in danger. In doing so, the Court will consider putting an occupation order in place without hearing the other person's side. This will give you an indication of how seriously the Court will take your safety and wellbeing into account. It should be noted however, that it is a very difficult order to obtain without the other person being present. Even if the Court make a short term order, they will still have to hear the other side's evidence and this will happen at a later date. An occupation order will also not affect the other person’s entitlement to that specific property, it will merely impose short term restrictions upon them until the final outcome has been decided.

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