Non Molestation Orders: Misuse of Law or Necessary Protection?
Non Molestation orders are an incredibly important part of the law, with the primary aim of protecting people who have been subjected to domestic violence or abuse and preventing further abuse from occurring in the future. Yet, there has been concern that these protective orders are sometimes being misused or, at the very least, their use isn’t always justified.
A separate article by us on Misuse of Non-Molestation Orders is available.
What is a non-molestation order?
Non-molestation orders are legal injunctions used to protect an individual from harassment and intimidation by another. Such an order in non-legal terms is also known as a restraining order, a protection order, an anti-harassment order, a civil harassment restraining order (CHRO), or a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). The purpose of such orders is to prevent physical abuse, unwanted contact, assault and other forms of threatening behaviour towards victims. They may be taken out against anyone who behaves in any way that causes distress to another individual.
We have written an article on the impact of child contact and child arrangement orders if a Non Molestation order is made.
Is the law being abused by your Ex?
A non-molestation order may be granted to a spouse, ex-spouse, child, stepchild or any individual related by blood/partnership who has had a domestic relationship with an applicant, generally known as a related person. What is not clear is what constitutes domestic violence which seems to be up for interpretation by individuals, and may time their reactions to a situation.
One couple may take an argument to be a domestic argument, and the other may say that it was domestic violence, the fact is that not all matrimonial arguments are equal to domestic abuse. Husband and wife, partners, couples, family members do argue, that is a simple fact. Clear evidence that domestic violence has taken place, I would like to see Non-Mol orders lasting more than a month granted only after the other party has been heard. It has become apparent that false allegations are being made in court against defendants with no other evidence than say so.
Can we really trust someone’s word when there is no physical evidence?
Is there a risk of emotional impact on defendants if they have to attend Court to defend themselves from false allegations? When you are accused without proof how can you defend yourself? You cannot win if you do not fight! How can these without evidence Non-Mol orders last longer than one month?
What is the Short term emotional impact of the Non-Molestation order on the defendant?
Non-Mol Non-Mol orders can be distressing for men (or women), in a similar way to long term emotional and financial distress from false allegations. Our experience shows that approximately half (49%) of domestic violence perpetrators had experienced some form of legal problem as a result of being reported for abuse. Of these, 95% were male and their average age was 32 years old. The most common legal problems included arrest (41%), court proceedings (36%), bail conditions such as electronic tagging/curfew requirements (26%), and non-molestation orders issued by police or magistrates courts(25%).
The study also found that when men were arrested, they were more likely than women to be taken into custody immediately after an incident without having access to phone calls, solicitors or family members. Talking of this issue on a global level, in addition, once in custody, men were less likely than women to have access to telephone calls or see a solicitor within 24 hours. Overall, it is clear that non-molestation orders are not only damaging financially but emotionally too. It is vital that cases are handled fairly and with consideration towards both parties involved.
How much does it cost to fight a non-mol Order application?
The emotional impact on the defendant. Going to court to fight a non-mol Order application can be very expensive, even if you only want to challenge one aspect of it; full representation costs thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands, of pounds. It is estimated that In England and Wales alone last year, at least £10 million was spent on non-mol Order cases alone. This figure is almost certainly higher now as legal aid for domestic violence victims in family courts has been almost completely removed. The non-mol injunction to get free legal aid disparity between applicant and defendant. Non mol injunction granted by Judge without hearing from Defendant. Non mol injunction granted by Judge without hearing from Defendant who lives 200 miles away from Applicant due to work commitments.
So why would you spend £10,000 – £20,000 to defend a Non-Mol Order application that was never meant to be heard by a judge and is only sought for emotional gain? It’s simple, you wouldn’t. So what happens when no one else is prepared to fight it for you and you don’t have that kind of money in your bank account?
If you’re like most people, you don’t have a spare £1,000 – £20,000 lying around to pay expensive solicitors and barristers. If your partner has taken you to court over a non-mol Order application and they are seeking an injunction against you, there is little else that can be done apart from fight it. It is at times like these that many defendants come to us at Court Help Limited (www.incourt.co.uk) as we offer value for money legal services.
Is Non-Molestation Order misused to get free legal aid?
Our experience shows that 25% of non-molestation orders are made without proper consideration of evidence apart from the witness statement of the applicant which may not be true, and there are cases when the non-molestation order is made on paper, without a hearing. By issuing non-mol orders which are not befitting to actual facts, and which are made with a click of fingers, it is making it possible for financial abuse as well as emotional impact on the defendant after an incident between two partners.
What are the Long term financial impacts of non-mol orders?
The long term impact is very high, the Non Molestation order leads to FREE legal aid to the applicant which she/ he uses in Family Law matters thereafter including children and divorce matters.
The order also has an emotional impact on the defendant, who may continue to be abused by his former partner but may not have enough money to take action in court. Due to misuse of law and lack of legal aid, fathers are left with large debts, and unable to secure employment because they have no permanent address due to their wife/ ex-wife taking their children away. It's a human rights issue.
One local charity reported being contacted by a man in debt because he had to defend himself against a divorce petition that was only supposed to be brought as part of an Non Mol Order. The court ignored the fact that he was financially ruined and forced him to defend himself whilst awarding his wife Legal Aid.
In another case a woman gave up her job because her ex-husband was threatening to take their children away, she also suffered domestic violence. Her husband did not pay maintenance and she could not afford legal fees to defend herself in court.
Why should we have to pay for a law that is so easily manipulated by a vindictive ex-wife or an ex-husband? When granted wrongfully, these orders are not protecting people they are breaking families and ruining children's lives.
The husband may then become homeless and be arrested for not paying his mortgage arrears. In some cases, an NMO may push a victim to depression. Is that what our judges want?
Our MPs need to act now.
Many MPs are at home, playing with their own children and completely unaware of what is happening in our courts. The first step is a survey that can be completed by anyone online asking one simple question do you think Non-Mol Orders should continue to exist in their current form?
There should be a drive for legal punishment against those who are found to have made false domestic abuse allegations.
Is there a lack of education among lawyers and judges about the consequences of granting a non-mol order?
When a non-mol order is granted, it can seriously affect somebody’s life. There is a lack of education among lawyers and judges about its consequences on people.
Sadly it may seem that Judges are not aware that they are dealing with human beings when they grant these orders and that once an order has been granted, it cannot be reversed. In most cases, both parties have children together and there will be no contact between them for years to come. The defendant has to live in fear of his/her life for many years to come as he/she may not see their children again because of a single incident that was blown out of proportion by one party who did not want to take responsibility for their own actions.
The defendant will be left feeling suicidal as they are held up to public humiliation by not being allowed to see their children and their loved ones. They will have lost any income due to loss of employment, had their property confiscated by bailiffs and have been ordered to pay a high amount of maintenance for something that did not happen. Sadly many defendants do in fact go into depression because it is all too much for them.
The right to liberty is protected by Article 5, which states that Everyone has the right to liberty and security. No one shall be deprived of his/her liberty save in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. A person who is found guilty of breaching a non-mol order will suffer imprisonment as a consequence unless they have been released on bail pending an appeal hearing.
Do Non Molestation cases involving children always have high emotions?
Many Non Molestation cases involve disputed custody and access, as well as domestic violence. As a result, Non-Molestation orders are granted by judges in order to protect parties involved from physical abuse and other crimes that can come along with an acrimonious relationship. However, many lawyers feel that these orders are being misused; they claim that there is less protection for those falsely accused than for their accusers.
In addition, we have to consider that those involved in Non-Molestation cases are often taking it to court because they do not want their ex-partner to be around their children. Unfortunately, their desire for sole custody can sometimes cloud their judgement. This leads them to lie about the other parent's behavior; those lies are then documented in a Non-Mol Order that could lead to prison time if broken.
Why don't more people speak out about family court injustices?
When people are unjustly accused of committing a crime, they're often eager to defend themselves. Why, then, don't more people speak out when they think family court accusations are false and unfair? There are several possible reasons for being too scared to speak out about perceived injustice in family court cases. In fact, many of these reasons combine together.
The first is that it is misunderstood as the response of a disgruntled party who has lost the case. The second is that there is a fear of losing custody or access to children if one speaks out against an accusation made by their partner. The third reason is that there's fear of retribution by one's partner if one speaks out against an accusation made by their partner.
The fourth reason is that people are afraid of the cost of appeal which can be very expensive and time-consuming, especially when both parties are unable to self represent in such a complex matter. If you wish to find out about appealing a Non Molestation order read this article.
The most common reason for not speaking out about a family court accusation is that it is emotionally exhausting.
Please note this article is NOT legal advice and should NOT be treated as Legal Advice.