What is an Occupation Order?
An occupation order is issued by the family court under Part IV Family Law Act 1996 and sets out who has the right to stay at the family home, who can return and who should be excluded.
An order does not change the financial ownership of a property. This is normally a short term arrangement and its duration will depend on your needs. Usually it will last for six or twelve months. In some circumstances an Order can also be renewed. Orders can only be made in relation to a property where you both live, have lived or you intend to live in.
What do Occupation Orders cover?
Depending on who owns or rents the property and whether you are married, in a civil partnership, divorced, living together, they can cover:
- The right to stay in the family home
- Returning to a family home, e.g. locked out
- Exclude an individual from the family home or part of it despite a legal right to reside there, e.g. for violence or abuse
- State who will pay the rent, mortgage and bills and maintain the property in the absence of the other party
- Right to stay at the family home for a specific time frame & protect a non entitled applicant from eviction where the property is rented from a local authority, housing association etc
- Set out areas of the home for each party to live in
- Protect home rights after the death of a spouse/civil partners or from divorce/dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership
Can I apply for an Occupation Order?
There are different types of Occupation Order available depending on your interest in the property and relationship to the other party.
Generally, you can apply for an order if you are:
- The owner or joint owner of the property
- A tenant
- If you have any financial interest in the property
- If you are or have been the spouse, civil partner or cohabitee of an owner, tenant or someone who has a financial interest in the property or a previous property
If you believe that you need an order you should call us for a short discussion so that we can assess funding and eligibility before making an appointment for you to see us.
How do I apply for an Occupation Order?
To start, contact us and we will complete all of the court forms and then get a court date listed for you. In emergency situations it may be possible to make an application to the Court within 24 hours of receiving instructions. We are here to take the worry off your hands and explain all the processes to you.
What will the court consider?
The court will take into account:
- Housing needs for you, your children and your partners
- What might happen if someone is made homeless and the likely effect of any other type of order
- How your, your partner’s or child’s wellbeing, mental health, physical health and safety will be affected by the making of any order and how this compares to what would happen if no order was made
- Yours and your partner’s behaviour
- Yours and your partner’s financial resources.
How long does an Occupation Order last?
The court can issue the order for a specific period, until a defined event occurs or until a further order is granted.
Who will pay the rent or mortgage if an Occupation Order is granted?
Section 40 of the Family Law Act 1996 gives the court the authority to include in the order provision for payment of any rent or mortgage on the property or assist in the payment of an excluded party’s housing costs.