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Violence in the family

Protection from domestic abuse

The government definition of domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

You do not have to put up with any form of abuse – the law can protect you and you are not alone. One of our experienced, compassionate solicitors, together with a network of support agencies, will support you.

Domestic abuse is not only physical attacks, it can also include:

  • denial;
  • destructive criticism;
  • disrespect;
  • financial control;
  • harassment;
  • isolation;
  • psychological abuse and threat of violence;
  • sexual force, threats or intimidation; and
  • verbal insults, taunts and bullying.
For urgent support

If you are ever in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

When you are in a safe place, you can contact our domestic abuse team at any time, day or night, on 020 7426 0400.

If you are in an abusive relationship or being threatened by a partner, former partner or family member, a member of our specially trained team will aim to see you on the same day that you call us.

Seeking protection from the court

We can apply to the court for an injunction (also known as a non-molestation order) to protect you and aim to do this on the same day we see you.  This is a court a court order protecting you from your abuser. The order can state they are not to:

  • contact you directly, including via telephone calls, messages, social media, and email communication;
  • indirectly contact you, such as by making contact with your family or friends;
  • harass, pester or make threats to you;
  • use violence against you;
  • instruct a third party to do any of the above; or
  • go within a specified distance of your home address (for example 100 metres).

The order can also protect children for such behaviours.

Breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.

The court can grant an injunction on an emergency basis on your evidence alone.  This means that by the time your abuser knows about it, the injunction can already be in force and they can be arrested and prosecuted for breaching it.

Our family law team has links with other agencies that can offer you further support once an injunction is in place. Other legal support may also be appropriate, and we can discuss this when we meet.

An occupation order

An occupation order is a court order which states who should live in the family home. There may be situations whereby there has been alleged domestic abuse between two people, and the abuser is entitled to live in the family home, for example, the house is in their name, or the house is joint names. A wishes to live in the family home. However B is also entitled to live in the family home, for example, the house is in B’s name, or alternatively, the house is in joint names.

An occupation order is a court order that can regulate who should live in the family home. The order can state that B is prohibited or restricted to using part of the house.

The order can make provision as to who is to pay the rent or mortgage payments.

Occupation orders are temporary orders, whilst the parties deal with what should happen with the home in the long term.

In an emergency, an occupation order can be made without notice.

Controlling and coercive behaviour

Section 76 Serious Crime Act 2016 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate partner or family relationship.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependant by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

If you feel that you are being exposed to such behaviours, the law does recognise this to be unacceptable. You can speak to one of team who can sensitively speak to you and advise on your experiences.

Protection from harassment

Your abuser may not be a family member. We can apply for an injunction to protect you from threatening or abusive behaviour or harassment by a friend, colleague or someone connected to you in another way.

In an emergency, the court can grant this injunction without notice.

Warning letters

If there is not enough evidence for a court to establish a pattern of behaviour, or you have not heard from the perpetrator for a considerable time, but remain concerned, we can write a warning letter.

This states that the perpetrator’s behaviour is unacceptable and sets out the consequences, including obtaining an injunction, which they may face should they continue.

Funding for legal advice or representation

Subject to your means, Legal Aid funding is available for an injunction if you are on a low income, in receipt of benefits or are completely dependent financially on your partner and he or she is your abuser.

Once we understand your circumstances, we will advise what funding might be available and discuss which payment options might work best for you.

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