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Understanding the Occupational Order: A Guide to UK Law

Are you curious how people decide who can live in a shared home during a legal separation or divorce? Well, in the UK, there are laws called Occupational Order that help decide this.

So, Let’s get started! Using easy-to-understand language and examples, we’ll go over the specific purposes of the Occupational Order. By the end, you’ll better understand how these laws keep people safe. Therefore, this will help decide who can live in a shared home during a difficult time.

What is Occupational Order?

An Occupation Order is a court-issued directive determining who can reside in a shared home. Typically, it includes situations like legal separation or divorce proceedings.

Particularly, an order can stop someone from going to certain places in a house. You can check Family Law Act 1996 for the following law sections that explain the power to make an order:

Sections 33

Section 35

Section 38

When an Occupation Order is in effect, it can regulate issues such as:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Responsible for maintaining the property
  • Use of Furniture and other objects
  • Paying rent to the other party

How Long Does It Take to Get an Occupation Order

When someone needs an Occupational Order, they may wonder how long it will take to get one. In short, the answer is that it depends on the situation. Prior to the court issuing an order, typically, a few steps must be completed.

  1. First, complete your application form and submit to the court.
  2. Secondly, the court will decide if the person asking for the order has a good reason to get one.
  3. Thirdly, if the court decides that the person does have a good reason, they’ll set a date for a hearing.
  4. The hearing is when the person asking for the order and the person who the order would affect will have a chance to tell the court their side of the story.
  5. Lastly, after the hearing, the judge will make a decision.

What’s Included in An Occupancy Order?

Usually, an Occupational Order can include different things depending on the situation. So, below is a table that shows some of the things that may be included:

Who can live in the shared homeThe Occupation Order can specify who can live in the shared home and who is not.
Exclusion from certain areasThe order can also exclude someone from certain areas around the shared home.
Payment of Rent or MortgageThe order can also specify who is responsible for paying the rent or mortgage on the shared home.
Maintenance of the propertyThe order can also specify who is responsible for maintaining the shared home.
Use of FurnitureThe order can also specify what furniture in the shared home can be used by whom.
Rent to the other partyThe order can also specify if the person in occupation should pay rent to the other party.

To clarify, note that an Occupation Order can include a variety of provisions. However, it may vary depending on the case and the court’s decision. So, keep in mind that Occupancy Order is a temporary solution. Certainly, this is not meant to determine the final outcome of the property.

Can You Apply for Occupation Order?

To get an Occupancy Order, certain rules must be followed. The Family Law Act states that you must associate yourself with the other person. Here’re the ways:

  • You were in a civil partnership or are currently married.
  • Have agreed to get married or enter into a civil partnership.
  • You lived together in the same household in a family setting.
  • For a long time, you were in a physical relationship.
  • You are a party to the same family litigation.

If you were a in a civil partnership or married to another person, you can apply for an Occupation Order. Moreover, you can apply in case of divorce or you’ve ended the partnership. In addition, you can apply if you were living together or planning to live together in the same home. Provided that, this is possible if you have the right to occupy the home.

What Takes Place When the Occupation Order is Disobeyed?

If someone breaks an Occupational Order, it’s not always a crime unless the court has added a special rule called a power of arrest to the order. On the negative side, the violation of the order may be punished with a fine or even imprisonment if a power of arrest is added. The court can give someone a special order that stops them from hurting someone else. If they break the order, the court can make them go to jail.

If no power of arrest is in the order, you can ask the court to issue a warrant of arrest against them. To do this, you must provide evidence. Moreover, they must convince the court that there’s a good reason to believe that the person who broke the order did so.

How Can You Apply for An Occupation Order?

An Occupational Order can change the lives of the people named in it. To apply for one, you must meet some requirements.

Firstly, you must prove that you’re connected to the property you want to add in your Occupation Order. Secondly, you must have or have had a relationship with the person the order is against (called the respondent).

When applying for an order, there’re certain documents the court will ask you for. This table will explain the documents:

Application formYou need to fill out this form to apply for an order. You can find it on the court’s website or obtain at the court.
Proof of your connection to the propertyThis can be a lease agreement, mortgage statement, or any other document that shows your connection to the property.
Proof of your relationship with the respondentThis can be a marriage certificate, cohabitation agreement, or any other document showing your relationship with the person against whom the order is.
Evidence of violence or threat of violenceSuppose you’re applying for an Occupational Order because of violence or a threat of violence. In that case, you will need to provide evidence such as police reports, medical reports, or other documents supporting your claim.
Proof of financial supportThis can be pay stubs, bank statements or any other document that shows your income or financial situation.

It’s important to remember that the requirements may vary depending on the court or the case.

What Do You need to Know About Family Law Act?

To be eligible to apply for an Occupancy Order under the Family Law Act, you must first meet the criteria. Moreover, as an associated person, you can apply as defined by the act. Also, meet certain other requirements as outlined in various sections of the act.

Under Section 33

You may be eligible to apply if you can occupy the property through ownership, tenancy, or other means. However, you’ll also be eligible if you have home rights related to the property.

Under Section 35

Apply as a former spouse or civil partner to become eligible. So, you’ll remain eligible if you don’t have any existing right to occupy the property.

Under Section 36

To be eligible for an Occupational Order, a person who has lived with another person without being married or in a civil partnership.

Under Section 37

This allows a person who neither they nor their spouse or civil partner can occupy the property.

Under Section 38

This allows a person who neither they nor their cohabitant or former cohabitant can occupy the property.

When applying for an Occupation Order, the court would apply two tests before granting the order.


In conclusion, an Occupation Order is a legal document that can help decide who gets to live in a certain home or property. To get one, show that you have a connection to the property and a relationship with the person the order is against.

There are different sections of the Family Law Act. They can make you eligible to apply for an order. Therefore, the court will also apply two tests before granting the order. At the same time, It’s important to understand that Occupation Orders are a short-term solution. They will not affect the final outcome of the property.

Knowing about Occupation Orders can help you make informed decisions about your legal rights regarding your home.