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12 May 2020

Domestic abuse Q&A

With lockdown causing most of us to spend more time at home than usual, there has been a rise in reported cases of domestic abuse.

But what support can domestic abuse victims get if they find themselves in need of legal help and how can a solicitor help them? Family Law Solicitor, Sally Harris recently took part in a live Q&A session hosted by the Law Society on twitter #Solicitorchat to discuss the following questions.

Q1. How can a solicitor help victims of domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic?

A solicitor can help by giving a victim of abuse advice with regard to their legal rights and options.  They can provide them with information with other agencies that are available to help out with regard to accommodation, children issues and finance issues. Applications to Court can be made where appropriate.

Steeles Law Family Team are currently working remotely; however, we are still able to provide confidential legal advice and support to victims. The team are able to offer telephone, email, or video appointments at times to suit.

We understand that life under lockdown can be especially tough and it may be difficult to seek support. For anyone who feels that they are of risk of abuse, it is important to remember there is professional help and support available. We would also encourage anyone else to contact and/or abuse the victim on their behalf. If someone is in immediate danger and their life is threatened, they should dial the Police on 999.

Q2. What is an injunction and how can it help protect someone suffering from domestic abuse?

An injunction is an order from the Court usually obtained at short notice to prevent the abuser contacting the victim of abuse.

The Court will usually attach penalties to the order if the abuser breaks the order.

Q3. What are occupation orders and non-molestation orders and how can they help protect someone suffering from domestic abuse?

An occupation order is an order for someone to be allowed to occupy a property, usually the family home and often to the exclusion of another party. The government website outlines the criteria in getting an injunction if you have been the victim of domestic abuse including how to apply.

A non-molestation order is an order that someone should not harass, molest or abuse another person and is often used in domestic abuse to keep the perpetrator away from the victim and ensure the health, safety and well-being of victim and their family. The government website gives further guidance on who can apply for a non-molestation order and eligibility.

Q4. What happens if someone breaks the rules of an injunction or order?

The Court will often impose penalties that will come into effect if an injunction or order is broken.  These can therefore vary depending on the circumstances of each case but often they will include a Penal Notice so that anyone breaching the injunction order risks spending a period of time in prison.

Q5. What is the application process for an injunction or order?

An injunction or order are made to the local Family Court.  There is an application sometimes also supported by a short statement and a court fee is paid although often victims of domestic abuse may be entitled to have this waived.  A solicitor can prepare the application and file it with the Court on behalf of someone suffering from domestic abuse.

Q6. How can a solicitor help me?

Our family law team are able to offer fixed fee appointments for an initial chat with a member of the team, this ensures you know your legal position and rights before proceeding.

Legal Aid is still available for domestic abuse cases, however, there are qualifying factors. If you think you may qualify should contact a solicitor who deals with Legal Aid matters for abuse victims and they will be able to advise you. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer Legal Aid, but the official government website has lots of reference material including how to claim.

If you would like to take legal advice our specialist Family lawyer will be able to advise you how to protect yourself and your family for the future, please contact Sally Harris or Sally Briggs in the Steeles Law family team who will be happy to help you via email using family@steeleslaw.co.uk or by calling 01603 598000.

For more information on family-related updates during the coronavirus crisis, please see our articles on:

Domestic abuse surges during the Coronavirus lockdown

Covid 19 – Child maintenance payments

Coronavirus: Family Courts in Partial Lockdown

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

 

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