Removing your spouse from the family home

You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about Petra Ecclestone’s and James Stunt’s recent acrimonious Court Hearing in London. And the Financial Proceedings relating to their divorce haven’t even started yet!

It has been reported that Mr Stunt was “removed from the Court room after making obscene gestures to both Petra and Bernie Ecclestone.” Not off to a good start then.

Whilst the parties have remained tight-lipped as to purpose of this Hearing, it is believed to have been an “ouster” Hearing to obtain an occupation order and so remove Mr Stunt from one of the family homes and allow Petra and the children to move back in. The parties’ financial hearings are due to start next month.

We are asked by clients if an occupation order can be obtained to evict their spouse from the family home. For such an application to succeed you need to show that there is abusive conduct sufficiently grave that it poses a risk of harm (which can include emotional harm) to you or your children. The Court must find the conduct to be serious before a spouse is ordered out of their home: the law considers such a step is a ‘draconian’ one.

In many cases where there is domestic abuse, the Court will only make a non-molestation order not an eviction order. A non-molestation order prohibits one spouse from behaving badly towards the other, and this affords some protection. A power of arrest is attached to a non-molestation order in some cases so that the Police can be called if the order is breached.

Bad conduct will only affect the financial claims if it is so exceptional that it would be unfair to disregard it, or, it goes to the heart of the financial issues, as happened in a 1976 case, where a husband attacked his wife injuring her so that she could not work.

If you have suffered abuse in your relationship, or are facing an application to the Court for orders against you, contact us to see if we can help you. If you qualify for legal aid we will not be able to help as we do not offer legal aid.

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