Although injunctions can be used for many purposes – restraining noisy neighbours, freezing bank accounts, preventing a parent taking a child out of the United Kingdom, ordering that a building be demolished etc – they are probably most commonly encountered when a relationship such as marriage or co-habitation breaks down. They are very often useful in these circumstances when one of the parties, or a child of the relationship, is being pestered, harassed or, sometimes, threatened with violence. Such injunctions are usually temporary and time-limited but that is often enough to allow time for tempers to cool.
The most common injunctions are those which order a person not to harass or pester the other and\or to keep away from certain places or people. Sometimes one person is ordered out of the matrimonial home (which, in these circumstances, can also mean the home of a co-habiting couple) and, in cases where there is a real risk of violence, a power of arrest can be attached to the injunction. An injunction evicting a person from the matrimonial home is not treated lightly by the courts and requires proper grounds.
Although a power of arrest is not routinely attached to an injunction and requires special circumstances it is a serious matter because it means that the injunction is registered at the local police station. In the case that a police officer then believes that the injunction has been breached he may arrest the offender and keep him in custody until he can be brought before the judge. Obviously, that may result in the offender being kept in police cells overnight and may well result in a court order of imprisonment as well. It is fair to say, though, that actual imprisonment is really quite uncommon in civil or divorce cases. Injunctions are in any event certainly not routine in the case of the breakdown of a relationship and are very much an exception. Nevertheless, their existence can have a sobering effect on many people who might otherwise be tempted to behave rashly.
Most couples resolve their differences without needing this type of remedy but injunctions are available as a last resort. In the case of most breakdowns in relationships other issues tend to play a larger part.
Injunctions almost always require legal assistance and advice. Furthermore injunctions can be granted quickly so if you are faced with this type of situation you should seek legal advice quickly.