Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is the physical, sexual, psychological, financial, or emotional abuse of one partner in an intimate or family relationship. If you are frightened of your current or former partner, you have a right to be protected under the law. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 for the police. 

Domestic abuse is dealt with both under the criminal law and the civil law. The two systems are separate and dealt with by separate courts. The criminal law is primarily aimed at punishing the offender. The police, together with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), initiate the process. The civil law aims to give you protection. You can apply for an injunction which restricts the offender by stating that they are not permitted to do specific things, such as use or threaten violence against you, or come too close to your home. 

Getting an Injunction 

An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do or not to do something. 

A non-molestation order forbids your partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you. It may limit the communication they can send you - perhaps by requiring all communication to come via solicitors and only when related to sorting out contact with children. A breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence and police have powers to arrest anyone who has breached an order immediately.

An occupation order can suspend their right to live in the family home so that you can return there to live. It can restrict your partner from entering within a defined area, for example, within 100 metres of the property. 

To obtain an order, you need to prepare an application stating what order you need and file it at court with a statement that explains why you need protection. You need to provide a history of the abuse and particular details of the most recent events including the abuse that prompted you to make the application. You can ask the court to consider your application without your partner even knowing about it. If the judge makes a non-molestation order, it will take effect as soon as your partner receives the paperwork. 

The judge may require you and your ex-partner to return to the court at a later date. This is so the judge can hear both sides of the story before a longer-lasting order is made. This is especially likely in applications for an occupation order since the court is always reluctant to suspend a person's property rights without first hearing their evidence. However, you can ask the judge to make a temporary order to protect you in the meantime.

Legal Aid 

If you are a victim of domestic violence you may be able to get legal aid to pay for legal advice and assistance. This can be help with the divorce or things such as child arrangements or how to share money or property, or to get an injunction to protect you.

To get legal aid you must be able to give your solicitor some evidence you have been a victim of domestic violence by your partner, such as:

criminal conviction

police caution

ongoing criminal proceedings

protective injunction

letter from a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference

letter from a GP, doctor, nurse, midwife or healthcare professional

letter from a domestic violence refuge

Once you've provided enough evidence, you will need to be assessed to see if you are financially eligible. There is an online calculator that can work out your eligibility here. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us and we can help you work out whether legal aid is available for you.