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Behaviour that has the effect or intention of annoying or pestering one's spouse (or cohabitant) or children. Such an act need not involve violence or physical assault; harassment (for example by threatening letters or telephone calls) may constitute molestation. Under the Family Law Act 1996, spouses (and in some cases unmarried cohabitants) can apply for a court injunction to prevent molestation (see non-molestation order). In addition magistrates' courts have similar powers under the 1978 Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Act, but only if there is violence and only in relation to married couples. There are procedures for protecting children in an emergency (see emergency protection order). See also battered child; domestic violence; stalking.

Subjects: Law.

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