I need to deprive someone access to a property, where do I start?
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or need to remove your spouse, a civil partner or a cohabitant from your property, it is recommended to seek legal aid. In a jointly owned property, for example, you may consider changing the locks or kicking your husband or wife out of the house. Unfortunately, this will not deprive them access to the property. You can, however, apply for what is called an Occupation Order. Upon applying, the Court will be able to step in, evaluate the harm suffered and regulate the occupation of your home.
What exactly is an Occupation Order?
In England and Wales, an Occupation Order is a type of Injunction which defines the occupancy terms among the Applicant and the Respondent. More precisely, this Order gives the applying party the right to live in a property while removing the other party.
Depending on your situation, the Court may restrict, prohibit or suspend the Respondent’s right to occupy the property. The Occupation Order can be granted for the entire property or alternatively, to a limited part. It is worth noting that a breach of such Order is considered a serious contempt of Court and can therefore be punishable by imprisonment. Occupation Orders are often accompanied by Non-Molestation Orders that prohibit violence and harassing behaviour towards you.
Who can apply?
While you do not need to be married to the Respondent to be eligible for an Occupation Order, it is required that you meet at least one of the following criteria:
- you are a tenant or the owner of a property intended to be shared with a spouse, fiancè civil partner, cohabitant, family member, or a co-parent
- you are legally married, or in a civil partnership with the owner of the property you are living in
- you are living in a shared matrimonial home with your former husband, wife or civil partner
- your cohabitant is the owner or tenant of the shared home you are living in.
How do I start an Occupation Order application?
Our expert Family Law specialists can help you put together your application. You will be required to lay out a witness statement listing your personal circumstances (e.g. any acts of molestation or abuse) with the reasons that led you to apply for an Occupation Order. The help of a professional solicitor gives you the best prospects of success to obtain an Occupation Order against a person.
How long does it take?
Keep in mind that the application process can be lengthy, and for this reason, we recommend getting in touch with our solicitors as soon as possible. However, in emergency circumstances where an individual may be under threat, it is possible to file for an urgent application.