Domestic Abuse

Hudgell & Partners have particular expertise in this area, working in partnership with local agencies in South East London to protect those at risk.

Angela Simpson is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of Family Lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, and has been accredited by them since 2002 as a specialist Family Lawyer with particular expertise in Domestic Abuse and Children (Private Law). Adelle Banks is a specialist in family matters and is especially skilled in the area of Domestic Abuse, Forced Marriage and Children Law Cases with strong local knowledge and community connections. She is also a member of Resolution.

  • One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime
  • About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
  • On average, 35 assaults happen before the police are called
  • 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17s and 24% of 18-24s have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults

Sources: Women’s Aid, NSPCC and Parity

What is Domestic Abuse?

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 regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

“Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent 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.

“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 their victim.”

(Cross Government definition announced 18th September 2012)

There are two broad types of Civil Injunction:

  1. Non Molestation order
  2. Occupation order

You may need one or both if you are a victim.

A Non Molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner, ex-partner or family member from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children. The power to make an Order is contained in section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996.

An Occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you may want to apply for an Occupation order.

The Legal Test

The court takes into account all of the circumstances of the case. This includes the health, safety and well-being of the person applying (known as the Applicant) or any relevant child. You need to be able to prove molestation, a need for protection and that a court order is required to control the Respondent.

Where you are no longer together then the more time you have been apart the more significant a relationship is required to justify protection under this part of the law.

Where there is evidence of recent physical violence the court will normally grant an order immediately to provide protection until a full hearing can take place.

How long does it take to get an injunction?

If you are in immediate danger, an application can be made to the court on the same day without your abuser being there. This is called a ‘without notice’ or ex parte application. The court will need to consider whether or not you are at risk of significant harm, whether you will be prevented or deterred from applying if you have to wait or whether your abuser is avoiding being served notice to appear before the court.

If the court grants a ‘without notice’ order, you will have to return to court for a full hearing once your abuser has been served with notice.

If there are other family proceedings already in progress (for example, for a Residence or Contact order for a child) the court may wish to hear the whole case together – but they can still grant an emergency order while you are waiting for the full hearing.

What if the order is broken?

Breach of a family Non-Molestation order is a criminal offence. If you inform the police of the breach they should arrest the offender and prosecute them. The offence is punishable by either up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine in the Crown Court or up to 12 months in prison or a fine in the Magistrates Court.

Practical Tips

If you are a victim of domestic abuse then there are important practical steps to take:

  1. Tell someone – any Health professional, police, your child’s School, a Solicitor
  2. Visit your GP or local hospital’s Accident and Emergency department to document your injuries
  3. Photograph your injuries
  4. Save any relevant evidence e.g.: text messages, Face book posts, Tweets, Voicemails

Remember we are available 24 hours a day. You do not need an appointment – just telephone, text or tweet us or just drop into the office. If necessary we can get you into Court the same day.

Contact  Hudgell & Partners’ 24 hour Emergency Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0792 1023153

Email Adelle Banks

Email Angela Simpson

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