Occupation Orders: Protecting You At Home - FAQs

How can an Occupation Order Help Someone Suffering Domestic Violence?

Firstly, What is an Occupation Order?

Occupation orders enable the court to regulate who lives in the family home. It can include several different provisions, such as requiring the respondent to leave the property or to allow the applicant to enter and remain there. It can cover situations whereby the property is jointly owned or rented.

How do you get an Occupation Order?

The test for such orders is known as the 'balance of harm' test. The court will consider the harm suffered by the applicant or relevant child, and whether they are likely to suffer significant harm if the court does not make the order. This will be weighed up against the harm suffered by the respondent or relevant child if the order is made. Section 33(7) of the Family Law Act states that the court must make an order if the test is met.

Even if the 'balance of harm' threshold is not satisfied, the court still has the ability to grant the order. It will examine all the circumstances of the case, including the housing needs and resources of the parties, their financial resources, the likely effect of the order, and the conduct of the parties. It must be remembered that the making of an occupation order is a severe step for the court to take - and this is reflected in the level of discretion given to the court.

How long does an Occupation Order last for?

The court again has wide powers in relation to the duration of the order, which can be for a specified period, until a specific event occurs, or until a further order is made.

Who pays the rent or mortgage if an Occupation Order is in place?

The court is also able to make what are known as ancillary orders. This can include payment of the rent or mortgage due on the property.

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