Legal Aid is still available to enable family solicitors to deal with family injunction applications.
Solicitors can obtain protective Orders for their clients from the family Courts relating to a spouse or partner’s behaviour and actions. These injunctions can deal with both undesirable behaviour (non-molestation orders) and the occupation of family homes (occupation orders).
The definition of domestic abuse is very wide and includes not only physical violence, but also pestering, verbal abuse, and coercive and controlling behaviour. Often the domestic abuse is subtle, or the victim does not often recognise that the behaviour or actions constitutes abuse. We find that abuse has often been happening over a long period of time before a more serious incident takes place which results in a client needing help and seeking appropriate legal advice.
Non-molestation orders can ‘prohibit’ specific behaviours and communications, and for example can forbid a partner from communicating with the victim, or even sending text messages to them. Breach of these family Orders are now a criminal offence and the police have the power to arrest the partner when a breach is reported. If found guilty, the perpetrator can be fined and/or sent to prison.
Occupation orders regulate each party’s rights of occupation within a family home. The Court can order a party to leave a property, and can order a party not to return to enter or live in that property for specified periods, with ‘exclusion zones’ often being identified in the order.
Court proceedings are not always necessary. In some cases a warning letter to the perpetrator sufficiently resolves and eases the situation for the victim.
Incidents of domestic abuse can constitute criminal offences, and the police have powers to deal with perpetrators by issuing them with Harassment Notices. Harassment Orders and Restraining Orders can be secured by the police through the Magistrates Court. Clients often consider that the police cannot assist them, or that previous reports to the police have not resolved the problem. We advise clients that it is extremely important to log all incidents of abuse with the police so that they police can provide appropriate protection where appropriate. In addition, such police logs can provide useful evidence within the family Courts should this be necessary.
If you are suffering from domestic abuse, or you know a friend, colleague or relative who is experiencing such abuse, then please urge them to seek legal advice from a family Solicitor.
You can make urgent and confidential appointments at King Street Solicitors on 01924 332395. We can undertake free Legal Aid assessments.