Occupation Orders and when they are needed
Occupation Orders enable the court to determine which party will remain in the family home following the breakdown of a relationship. They are generally only made in specific and usually serious circumstances.
What are Occupation Orders?
An Occupation Order is a type of court order which enforces a person’s right to reside in a property.
Occupation Orders can also be utilised to exclude a person from a property or from a defined area in which the property is located.
Occupation Orders can also state who will pay the mortgage or rent for a property.
However, Occupation Orders do not change legal ownership of a property.
How long does an Occupation Order last?
Occupation Orders normally only last a few months. However, in some circumstances it may be possible to renew an Occupation Order.
Why might I need an Occupation Order?
If your partner has locked you out of the family home, an Occupation Order could be used to enable you to live in the property again.
An Occupation Order can also force someone to leave a property.
Occupation Orders are most often used in cases of domestic abuse. For example, one partner leaves the family home due to being subjected to acts of violence by the other partner. The victim of the violence could use an Occupation Order to exclude the abuser from the family home (and the surrounding area), enabling them to return to the property.
How do I apply for an Occupation Order?
First and foremost, it is vital to receive legal advice from a specialist family lawyer, to ensure that an Occupation Order is suitable for your circumstances.
Only those who are ‘associated’ with the respondent may apply for an Occupation Order. An ‘associated person’ could be, for example, a spouse, a partner with whom you are living or a relative (this is not an exhaustive list).
How long will it take to get an Occupation Order?
In some circumstances, such as where domestic abuse is involved, it may be possible to make an emergency application to the court for an Occupation Order on the same day as the appointment with your solicitor.
In exceptional circumstances, the Occupation Order can be applied for ‘without notice’ to the respondent. If this occurs, the respondent will be unaware of the Occupation Order application but will be able to challenge the order later on.