Dennis Hopper, the US actor, has obtained an order requiring his wife to stay at least three metres away from him claiming that she has engaged in “outrageous conduct” during the last year. The reason given by Hopper for his application was to eliminate unnecessary stress within his divorce proceedings given that he is currently receiving treatment for prostate cancer.
In England and Wales this type of order is known as a non-molestation order. A non-molestation order can be made by the Court under the Family Law Act 1996 where the Court considers that one party is acting in an inappropriate way towards the other. It is open to “associated persons” to apply for a non-molestation order to prevent violent, harassing, intimidating or pestering behaviour from another party. Associated persons include spouses, co-habitants, parents, siblings, grandparents and many more.
However, it is a common misconception that violence is needed before the Court will make a non-molestation order. This is simply not true. In deciding whether to make an Order, the Court will have regard to all the circumstances including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the Applicant and any children. This can therefore include the risk of suffering emotional and psychological harm as well as physical harm.
Dennis Hopper also obtained an Order from the Court preventing his wife from entering his main home. This is akin to an occupation order in this country. In making a decision, the Court will apply a number of tests including:-
- the housing needs of the parties and the children
- their financial resources
- the likely effect on the health, safety or well being of the parties and the children.
Having applied these tests the Court will then consider the balance of harm test. This means that the Court will be obliged to make an order if it appears that the applicant or any children are likely to suffer significant harm attributable to conduct of the other party, unless the harm which would be suffered by the other party would be even greater if an order is made. The term “harm” is not defined by the statute, but it appears to be accepted by the Courts that this need not be limited to physical harm, and can include emotional and psychological ham.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your partner’s behaviour towards you, or that of a family member, we suggest that you speak with a solicitor regarding that behaviour to see if any measures can be put in place to attempt to prevent that behaviour towards you.
At Stephens Scown we have specialist accredited solicitors, nationally rated to advise you in relation to injunction proceedings and to discuss with you the best options for you.