Family Solicitor
Senior Solicitor Consultant
Judge Emeritus & Solicitor
Trainee Solicitor
Principal Solicitor

St. Paul's Office:

OTS Solicitors

15 Old Bailey

London

EC4A 7EB

Chat
Have a question?

Call us now:

0203 959 9123

We're here to help

What is your query in relation to?

Occupation Orders

Message from our Managing Partner, Mr Oshin Shahiean:

Online Legal Advice and Services - We have already brought online processes and safeguards to allow our professionals and support teams to function safely from our offices and fully online. In light of the Coronavirus developments clients seeking legal advice need to simply complete our online enquiry form or call our switchboard on +44 (0)203 959 9123 who will arrange and appointment via our online platform, WhatsApp, skype or telephone conferencing.

An occupation order is a type of injunction order which states who can live at the family home. If you are concerned about your physical or emotional security, or are concerned about the wellbeing and safety of your children because of the continued presence of a partner, husband or wife in the family home then you should take legal advice on the best option to safeguard yourself and the children.   

Injunction solicitors

To speak to a caring and supportive family law solicitor at London based OTS Solicitors please call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how we can help you. Alternatively, you can contact us confidentially using our online enquiry form.

 

What does an occupation order do?

An occupation order covers a range of different family circumstances. The occupation order sets out who can stay at the family home and can say that the person responding to the injunction application must:

  • Move out of the family home;

  • Must not return to live at the family home during the duration of the occupation order;

  • Must keep a certain distance away from the family home. The distance will depend on the location of the family home, the respondent’s address and place of work;

  • State that whilst the respondent can stay at the family home he/she must use a separate bedroom and only use other rooms at set times to minimise contact between the two of you;

  • Require the respondent to allow you access to the family home if they have, for example, changed the locks or locked you out;

  • Require the respondent to continue to pay the mortgage or rent and other household bills during the occupation order.

 

Family lawyers will tell you that it is just as important to understand what an occupation order does not do. It does not:

  • Change the legal or equitable ownership of the family home. If the property is owned in the sole name of the respondent then the occupation order allowing you to live in the family home does not give you legal ownership. If you are a cohabitee you need legal advice on property claims. If you are a spouse you need legal advice on your best financial settlement options, including orders for the sale or transfer of the family home;

  • Require the children to live at the family home as the occupation order simply governs who can occupy the property during the life of the occupation order. If you and your partner cannot agree on whether the children should live with you or your partner either of you can apply for a child arrangements order to settle with whom the children should live and the contact arrangements;

  • The occupation order governs who can occupy the family home but does not prevent ongoing domestic abuse. For example, if the respondent is ordered to leave the family home they could continue to send you texts, post online messages or attend your place of work. Therefore you may need a non-molestation order. This application can be made at the same time as the occupation order application.

 

What are the alternatives to an occupation order?

There are alternatives to an occupation order, such as:

  • The respondent can agree to leave the family home and move in with family or rent accommodation. A letter from a solicitor can sometimes achieve the outcome of the respondent leaving the family home voluntarily;

  •   You can leave the family home and move in with family or into rented accommodation. If necessary, you could ask for child support or temporary spousal maintenance to help you meet the costs of renting a property. You should move into another property (unless you are at risk and fear for your safety) until you have taken specialist legal advice because leaving the family home may not be in your or your children’s best interests.

 

Who can apply for an occupation order?

You can apply for an occupation order if you have experienced domestic abuse (there is a very wide definition of what constitutes domestic violence) and you meet the criteria to apply. The criteria includes:

 

  • You own or rent the home and it is, was, or was intended to be shared with your spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, family member, person you are engaged to or parent of your child; 

  • Although you do not own the family home , you are  married or in a civil partnership with the owner and you are living in the home;

  • Although you do not own the family home, your former husband, wife or civil partner is the owner or tenant, and the property is or was your shared family home, or was intended to be; 

  • Although you do not own the family home or rent the property the respondent is your cohabitee or former cohabitee or the property was intended to be your family home and the respondent owns or rents it.

 

Although the list of who can and cannot apply for an occupation order looks complicated a specialist family law solicitor can advise you on whether you meet the criteria to apply for an occupation order and talk to you about your best options.

 

Additional considerations and occupying the family home

In addition to advice on whether you should apply for an occupation order a family law solicitor can help answer other practical and legal considerations, such as:

  • Changing the locks on a family home; 

  • If the family home is jointly owned severing the joint tenancy;

  • If the family home is owned in the sole name of your respondent spouse or cohabitee registering either a matrimonial homes right notice or appropriate  notice at the Land Registry;

  • Resolving short term considerations such as payment of bills through applications for child support and/or spousal maintenance;

  • Resolving long term occupation and ownership of the family home by advising on property claims if you are a cohabitee or financial settlement claims if you are a spouse.

 

Applications for an occupation order

The law says that if it appears to the court that the applicant or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm attributable to the conduct of the respondent if an occupation order is not made, it is mandatory for the court to make an occupation order unless it appears that the respondent or any relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm if the occupation order is made and that harm is as great or greater than the harm likely to be suffered by the applicant for the order.

 

An experienced family law solicitor will explain what that test is likely to conclude taking into account your family circumstances and the fact that the court will also take into account all the circumstances, including:

 

  • Housing needs and resources of both of you;

  • The financial resources of both of you;

  • The likely effect of any order on the health, safety or well-being of you and the respondent and any children;

  • The conduct of both of you. 

Further circumstances are taken into consideration depending on which section you are applying for the occupation order under.

 

Does there have to be physical abuse to secure an occupation order?

There does not have to be physical abuse to secure an occupation order. You have to be able to say that there is domestic abuse. That covers a wide range of abuse, including emotional and psychological abuse and coercion and control.

 

How long does the occupation order last?

The duration of an occupation order depends on your circumstances. An occupation order is not normally intended to provide a long term solution to occupation of the family home. It is designed to enable one or both of you to occupy the family home until the expiry of the occupation order or you reach a financial settlement or the court makes a property order or, if you are married, a financial court order.

 

Injunction solicitors

To speak to a caring and supportive injunction and family solicitor at London based OTS Solicitors call 0203 959 9123 to discuss how we can help you take steps to protect you and your family. Alternatively you can contact us confidentially using our online enquiry form.
Ask our experts a question
View previous cases that relate to your position
Your question will be processed by us in accordance with our Legal Notice and Private and Cookies policy. By submitting a question, you consent to such processing and you warrant that all data provided by you is accurate. We reserve the right to display your question*
Your email address. The answer will be emailed to you.
Add your phone number If you would like us to call you back with a more detailed answer.

Related News

Is your ex-husband or ex-wife still trying to control you? When you separate from a partner you often assume that you will be able to ach...

Many people think that you only need a London family law firm if you have decided to get divorced but family law experts say that it is b...

Domestic Abuse and employment lawyers know that domestic violence doesn’t just affect you at home or only impact your personal life. Dome...

Get in touch