Occupation Order Guide
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(A general guide - variations may apply)
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STEP 1: The application for an Occupation Order
Applying for an Occupation Order in the UK is a legal process that aims to protect you and your family from domestic violence or harassment. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to apply for an Occupation Order:
Contact a Trusted McKenzie Friend from the McKenzie Friend UK Network. You don't need paid lawyers in the family court.
Gather evidence: To support your application, collect evidence of the abuse or harassment you have experienced. This may include photographs of injuries, text messages, emails, letters, witness statements, or any other relevant documentation.
Fill out the application form called the FL401.
Write and submit your evidential statement with the FL401: Write a detailed statement explaining the incidents of abuse or harassment you have experienced. Be clear, factual, and concise in your statement. Include dates, times, and locations if possible. Our Trusted and Trained McKenzie Friend members of the Network can help you.
Is you application an urgent and without notice application?

If you application is urgentand without notice the court may grant an interim Occupation Order, however given the 'draconian' nature of the order this would be very rare. However, if granted, it is served on the other party by the court. The court will then set a return date for both parties to attend court for a Dispute Resolution Appointment.

If the application is not urgent or without notice, then the court will set a date for both parties to attend for the first hearing.

At the first hearing the Judge will determine whether the matter may merit the need for an interim Occupation order if not already served. The court will want to understand the position of the respondent, as to whether the accusations and allegations are admitted and an Occupation- Order is accepted. If the accusations are denied, the Judge may set a date for a Contested Hearing and the respondent will be provided with the opportunity to file and serve their evidential statement and any evidence in response to the allegations.
At the Dispute Resolution Appointment, there are other options to consider to reach a resolution:

a) The respondent can propse accepting an occupatin order on a no-fault or no admissions basis.

b) The respondent can offer a formal undertaking on a no fault or no admissions basis.

If there is no resolution at the first hearing the court will set a date for a final hearing and will determine whether an interim occupation-order is needed.

Note: Service of documents: If the court grants a Temporary Occupation Order or schedules a full hearing, the relevant documents will be served on the respondent (the person you are seeking protection from) by the court or a process server. Never serve the papers yourself.
If the court is satisfied that you have reasonable grounds for the application, they will issue an Occupation Order and it can last for a defined period, typically between 6 months and 1 year.
Breach of the order: A power of arrest can be attached to occupation orders if the court is satisfied that your abuser has used or threatened violence against you. If your abuser breaches any part of your occupation order and there is a power of arrest attached to it, you can report the breach directly to the police.
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The General Principles

L (Children), Re [2012] EWCA Civ 721 (04 May 2012)

The mother and father had eight-year-old twins. Following the breakdown of their relationship, a number of heated arguments followed. The mother applied for an occupation order to have the father excluded from the property. The court found the children were being adversely affected by their parents’ arguments and held that the twins were likely to suffer significant emotional harm as a consequence. See Judgement

Grubb v Grubb[2009] EWCA Civ 976,

An occupation order was successfully granted when no violence or significant harm had occurred See Judgement

Dolan v Corby [2011] EWCA Civ 1664

“an order requiring a respondent to vacate the family home and overriding his property rights is a grave or draconian order and one which would only be justified in exceptional circumstances, but exceptional circumstances can take many forms and are not confined to violent behaviour on the part of the respondent or the threat of violence and the important thing is for the judge to identify and weigh up all the relevant features of the case whatever their nature”. See Judgement

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Philip Kedge is a retired police Chief Inspector and the founder and director of the McKenzie Friend UK Network. His aim is to take family court matters out of the hands of lawyers with an ethical business to reduce conflict and acrimony, to provide access to cost effective McKenzie Friend national services, to offer training and to reduce the emotional harm to children.
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