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Home » What Evidence Do I Need for an Occupation Order?

What Evidence Do I Need for an Occupation Order?

    What_Evidence_Do_I_Need_for_an_Occupation_Order

    Feeling safe in one’s own home should be an absolute fundamental right. Unfortunately, that home environment can often harbour unbearable levels of toxicity and stress if also occupied by an abusive partner who is trying to exert their control.

    If this scenario sounds familiar, then you may be able to apply for an occupation order. If successful, you will be able to prevent your abusive partner from living in the property with you for a specified period of time. They will have to find alternative accommodation but may also still be obliged to support you financially, if that is the norm for you and your family, paying bills and the mortgage or rent.

    What is an Occupation Order in Family Law?

    While resolving the long term living arrangements following a separation may take time, if you or your children are feeling threatened or in danger with the presence of your partner still in the home or are being subjected to controlling or inappropriate behaviour, an occupation order can give you temporary respite until more permanent solutions are made. It does not matter if your name is not on the deeds or the tenancy – as long as you have ‘home rights’ due to the nature of your relationship – either as a spouse, partner, cohabitee or in some other provable personal relationship, then you have grounds for an occupation order.

    The structure of the occupation order depends on the ruling of the court and your circumstances. These could include any of the following:

    • It could determine certain sections of the property in which you and your ex can reside. This gives a certain amount of distancing, without a complete separation.
    • It can establish the length of time required for the order to last. This is particularly important as it gives you time to make alternative arrangements without the obligation to continue living in fear.
    • It can require your former partner to move out of the property and completely prohibit them from entering the property at any time.
    • It can give you the right to gain entry back into the property if you have been illegally locked out. 
    • It can prevent your abusive ex-partner from entering a defined area within a local proximity to the property in question.

    How Hard is it to Get an Occupation Order?

    To consider granting an Occupation Order the Court need to be satisfied that you and any children you have would suffer more harm if the Order is not granted than your former partner and the children would suffer if the Order was made.

    When an occupation order application is received by the courts, it considers the following issues:

    • What are the housing and financial needs and resources of both parties?
    • What are the behavioural implications of both parties?
    • What impact is the situation having on any children involved?

    What Evidence Do I Need for an Occupation Order?

    The more evidence that you can produce to support your occupation order application, the more chance you have of it being accepted and agreed by a family law court. This evidence will need to include:

    • An affidavit (a signed statement), which precisely details the incidents of abuse that you have been experiencing, and how they impact you and your children. This needs to reflect the consistency, and the coercive nature of the behaviour to demonstrate the impact on yourself and any children who live with you. This can also include any relevant information in respect of your housing needs and resources and those of your former partner. For example if you are submitting to the Court that your former partner can afford to secure alternative accommodation you may want to attach to your statement copies of some examples of potential properties that your former partner could live in.

    Affordable Justice works closely with women in preparing and submitting applications to the family law courts for an occupation order. 

    How Much Does It Cost, and How Long Does It Take to Get an Occupation Order?

    Gathering the information together takes the longest time, so the more you can pull together beforehand the better. Once all the evidence has been collected, and the application submitted, the amount of time it takes depends largely on the Court’s availability and any delays they are experiencing. In cases where the person applying is at a significant risk of harm the Court can consider making the Order on an urgent basis but more commonly the Court will simply list the matter in the usual manner.

    According to Google, the average cost of an occupation order application is between £4-8,000, in line with traditional commercial law firm rates. Please bear in mind that Affordable Justice was established to make such support more accessible to women who cannot afford these types of costs, and who are not eligible for legal aid. Our fees have had the profit element stripped out, so will be at around one-third of average costs.

    If your situation calls for an occupation order, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.