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Family Law

Occupation Order

Everybody should feel safe in their own home. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, our family lawyers can apply for an occupation order to safeguard you and your family. Alternatively, if you have been unfairly locked out of your family home, we can protect your right to remain.

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What is an occupation order?

An occupation order is a court order relating to the family home. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, an occupation order can offer you protection if you feel unsafe living with your partner.

An occupation order is made under the Family Law Act 1996, and it can do any of the following:

  • Enforce somebody’s right to remain in the family home.
  • Enforce somebody’s right to return to the family home (for example, if they have been locked out).
  • Exclude somebody from entering the family home, even if they have a legal right to be there.
  • State who is responsible for paying rent or the mortgage.
  • State who is responsible for maintaining the property.
  • Give somebody the right to stay in the family home for a specified period of time.
  • Set out who lives in what part of the home and which parts of the home are shared.
  • Ensure somebody’s rights to a property are not ended by the death of their spouse or civil partner or by divorce or civil partnership dissolution.
  • Require somebody to leave the family home.

An occupation order is tailored to your unique situation and functions in the way you need.

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How do you apply for an occupation order?

You need to complete form FL401 to apply for an occupation order. Along with the form, you need to supply an affidavit (a sworn statement) detailing the abuse you are suffering and the effects of the abuse.

Evidence might include:

  • Independent reports from police and health professionals.
  • Statements from witnesses such as a domestic violence support worker.
  • Social services reports.
  • Photographs of your injuries.
  • Photographs of damage to property.

This list is not exhaustive, and the evidence you require depends upon your particular case.

Can you challenge an occupation order?

Receiving an occupation order and being shut out of your family home is a frightening and distressing experience. If you believe an occupation order has been granted unfairly, then you may be able to contest it.

It is important to seek legal advice quickly to put the matter right. You must obey an occupation order because failure to do so can result in a fine of thousands of pounds or a prison sentence, and it can also weaken your position when you contest.

If an occupation order should not have been granted, our family lawyers can build strong evidence and fight your case.

Talk to Davisons occupation order solicitors

Our family lawyers have years of experience in applying for occupation orders, and there are few situations we have not come across. We can defend your legal rights and offer you sensible advice you can trust.

We are here when you need us most, and we genuinely care about achieving the best outcomes for you.

We offer a Free Initial Assessment, so if you have any questions about an occupation order our advice is free.

Have any questions or need any help?

Our team of specialist lawyers are experts in their field. Be confident in their advice and decisions to help get the right outcome for you. Contact us today to see how we can help

Occupation Order FAQs

Occupation orders are not granted lightly. To win your case, it is important that your application and affidavit are correct and that you have clear supporting evidence that will stand up to scrutiny.

Our solicitors can advise you and work with you to present the strongest possible case.

Under the Family Law Act 1996, to apply for an occupation order, you must meet the following criteria:

• Have a close association with the other party. You might be a spouse, civil partner or cohabitee, or you might be engaged to them.
• Have a legal right or a contractual reason to occupy the property.

If you are not named on your home’s title deeds but are married or in a civil partnership, you may have matrimonial home rights. The effect of matrimonial home rights is to prevent the spouse or civil partner who has legal rights to a property from evicting their partner.

An application must be made to the court to cancel an occupation order.

Neither the applicant (the person who applied for the order) nor the respondent (the person the order is against) can ignore the order. An occupation order is granted by the court, and therefore, only a court can cancel it.

A judge will only cancel an occupation order if they believe it is in the applicant’s best interests.

It can take just 24 hours to obtain an occupation order if you are in immediate risk of danger. This is called an emergency occupation order.

Where there is domestic violence, a non-molestation order stops violence and harassment from continuing. An occupation order can prevent an abuser from living in the same house as the person they are abusing.

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, you could apply for a non-molestation order and an occupation order to protect your safety and the safety of any children.

There is no court fee to apply for an occupation order. If you decide to seek legal advice, you may be eligible to receive legal aid. Please talk to our solicitors to find out whether you could meet the criteria for legal aid and how to apply.