Last Updated on 24.10.23 by Rachael Day
What is an Occupation Order?
An Occupation Order is an order made by the court to deal with the family home. It’s a very serious type of order and is only usually granted in very serious circumstances. This type of order can be used to:
- Exclude someone from the family home
- Enforce the right to remain in the property
- Regulate the occupation of the property
- Require someone to leave the family home
- Prevent someone from entering a defined area within which the property is located.
Who can get one?
To apply for an Occupation Order you have to meet 3 requirements, which are:
- The applicant must have a legal or contractual benefit in the property or have a right to occupy. This includes owners, tenants and those who have a Notice of Home Rights registered
- The property subject to the application must have been or currently be the home of you both
- Both you and the respondent need to be classed as Associated Persons (as set out in s62 Family Law Act 1996) i.e. spouse/civil partner/cohabitee, relatives, people who have agreed to marry, have had an intimate personal relationship with one another of significant duration, the list is not exhaustive.
What is the process?
To obtain an Occupation Order, an application must be sent to the court using a form FL401 with a witness statement and any supporting evidence that you would want the court to consider. There is no court fee payable.
The application can be made with or without notice to the respondent (i.e. with them knowing and having seen the papers or not). However, the court doesn’t usually make orders regarding property rights without the knowledge of the person who would be impacted by it. The papers must be served on the respondent at least 2 business days (or however many days the court directs) before the hearing. The applicant must then file a certificate of service with the court at or before the first hearing.
The court will look at all of the evidence presented and will primarily consider the health, safety, and well-being of the applicant and any relevant child. The courts will use the balance of harm test to consider whether there is a likelihood of significant harm being caused to the applicant or child. The court will then decide whether or not to make the order.
How long do they last?
Occupation orders are not designed to be a long-term solution, they are instead to protect people in the short term whilst other arrangements can be made. The duration of the order will depend on which legal section of the Family Law Act you are looking to rely on and can vary from 6 months with one extension through to unlimited provision.
The power of an expert legal team in your corner
The circumstances that lead to occupation orders can be extremely difficult and distressing. The support, guidance and kind understanding a legal team can offer during these events can help you get the protection you need for yourself and your family while giving you the peace of mind needed to get a long-term solution in place.
To set up a consultation with our Family law team, call us on 0161 930 5151, email us at email@example.com or use the online form.