Regrettably, in a number of the divorce cases that I deal with, one person in the relationship alleges on separation that they were subject to abuse by their spouse during the marriage or that abuse is taking place now.
What is Domestic Violence?
Refuge defines domestic violence as the abuse of a partner within a family or intimate relationship.
In 2013 the Government announced an expanded definition of domestic violence, including psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse and controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour.
Domestic violence has relevance to all areas of family law. But what can UK family courts do to combat acts of domestic violence?
How Can Family Courts Help Victims of Domestic Violence?
In response to concerns about domestic violence, the family court can make "injunctions".
Injunctions make someone act (or forbid them from acting) in a certain way. An injunction can include preventing someone from occupying the family home.
6 Tips For Victims of Domestic Violence
If this is an issue which concerns you, it is important to take advice from a specialist domestic violence solicitor. Whatever decision you make, you should be aware that:
- You must always call 999 when in immediate danger.
- If you are researching this subject online, the perpetrator may well share your computer. Be careful to wipe your browser history.
- If you want an order removing your partner from the family home, you need to act quickly after the use or threat of physical violence (within a few days).
- The family court can attach a “powers of arrest” to an injunction so that if the abuser breaks the order, you have the ability immediately to contact the police and have them arrested.
- The court can also make urgent orders "ex parte" which means that the other person is not present at the initial hearing. Ex parte orders tend to only be made in emergency situations and again, you need to act quickly.
- When making your application, you will be required to prepare a written statement setting out the facts. It is important therefore to keep a note of anything which may be useful and copies of any relevant paperwork / communications.
Should you require advice in relation to domestic abuse or any other family matter, please call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Claire Reid is a family and divorce lawyer at Slater and Gordon’s Manchester and Newcastle offices.