Domestic violence and legal remedies


By Sarah Knutsen

Domestic violence is usually linked to physical abuse. However domestic abuse can also be sexual, emotional or psychological. Abuse can include many things, such as harassment, financial control or psychological games. It is rarely a one-off incident and in most cases there is a long running pattern of controlling behaviour.

Some instances of abuse, usually physical, are obviously criminal offences which should be dealt with by the police or a criminal solicitor. There are, however, some civil remedies available to victims of abuse which a family law solicitor can help you to obtain.

The most common remedy is a civil injunction. An injunction is a court order which requires someone to do, or not to do something.

The Family Law Act 1996 makes two main type of injunction available to sufferers of abuse:

  • A non-molestation order: This is an order to prevent your partner using or threatening violence against you or your children – this includes harassing or intimidating you. Breach of this type of injunction is a criminal offence
  • An occupation order: This order regulates who can live in the family home and can be extended to prevent your abuser entering a specific area within a certain distance from your home. This is a useful remedy for those living with a physically violent partner - Powers of arrest can be attached to each of these types of injunction.

Who is eligible to apply for an injunction?

To be able to apply for either type of injunction you must be an ‘associated person’ – this means that you and the abuser must be associated with each other in one of the following ways:

  • You are or have been married to each other, or are or have been in a civil partnership with each other (or if you have formally agreed to marry each other, even if that agreement has now ended)
  • You are cohabitants or former cohabitants (includes same-sex couples). This also includes living in the same household with other people
  • You are relatives
  • You have a child together (including parents of the same child or those who have parental responsibility for the same child)
  • Although not living together, you are in or have been in an intimate relationship for significant duration
  • You are both involved in the same family proceeding (divorce or child contact proceedings for example)

If you would like to speak to a family law solicitor about how you can apply for an injunction and if you would be eligible, please call Caven on 08001 221 2299 or fill out the web form.

Sarah Knutsen is one of Caven’s most experienced and knowledgeable telephone advisors.

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