Q: My partner and I have been together six years and own our house jointly. Our relationship has always been difficult but since our son was born a year ago he has become verbally and physically abusive towards me and I am terrified of doing anything to set him off. As I am still on maternity leave and not earning I cannot move out. What can I do?
A: Based on what you say it seems unlikely that your partner will voluntarily leave the family home while you decide if your relationship has a future, but you could apply to the Court for a Non Molestation Order and also an Occupation Order.
A Non Molestation Order made by the Court would forbid your partner from hurting you or your son. It would give you protection from violence, harassment, manipulation or threats from him and prevent him from inciting any other person to act in this way against you. An Occupation Order can be applied for if the property is jointly owned/leased and would provide you with the right to remain in the family home and exclude your partner from it.
To apply for either Order you must see a family lawyer who will prepare the application and a Statement in support. The application can be made ‘On Notice’ whereby your partner will be made aware of it and be given a copy of your Application and Affidavit prior to a Court Hearing date. In the case of the Non Molestation Order, the application can alternatively be made ‘Ex Parte’ whereby your partner will receive no information about your action until after the initial Court hearing.
Neither of the above Orders incurs a Court Fee and Legal Aid may be available for them if you meet the financial criteria and can show that there has been involvement from outside agencies.