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For the last two weeks we have been looking at orders that could be granted by the court especially for the protection of the applicant or his property. Injunctive orders could be given to anyone on application but in the last article we looked at the orders that are granted to members of a family under the Domestic Violence (Summary Proceedings) Act, No.13 of 1995. This week we will look at occupation and tenancy orders which are also granted under the same act. {{more}}

Occupation orders

Occupation orders are often sought when the parties who are living together are in dispute and because of violence or the threat of violence one party lives in fear of the other. The party makes the application at the Family Court Office on the Form B and is given a date for hearing. If he or she is not able to present his or her case, the applicant may retain a lawyer to plea his or her case before the President of the Family Court.

The President of the Court would look at the circumstances of both parties and would decide who would live in the house that was shared by the parties for a period of time and upon such terms as the court thinks fit. The parties may be ordered to occupy specific parts of the house or a party may be ordered to find separate accommodation. Occupation orders may be temporary and if the parties want a determination as to ownership they may approach the High Court on that issue.

An occupation order is normally issued inter partes, that is, with both parties present in court. It will make an order ex parte (in the absence of the respondent) only in exceptional circumstances. If a party has used violence in the past the court will likely attach a protection order for the benefit of the party who occupies the house. Where there are children in the family the party who is excluded would be ordered to pay maintenance.

Tenancy Orders

If there is violence or threat of violence between spouses of a common law or marital relationship who occupy rented premises, one of the parties may approach the court for a tenancy order. Application could be made on the Form C for the matter to be heard before the President of the Family Court. The court will make the order for the protection of the applicant and especially in the interest of the children.

Variation of an Order

A party may apply to the court to change a part or parts of an order that was made preciously by the court. This may be done if there are changes in the circumstances of one party or both parties. Both occupation and tenancy orders may be varied. The court will listen to both parties and decide whether changes are necessary.

As you celebrate this Christmas, remember to lend a hand, give a smile and reach out to your fellowmen. Merry Christmas/Happy holidays! I wish you a new year that is filled with joy, happiness and prosperity.

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