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Domestic Abuse

Where necessary, the civil courts can act very quickly to offer protection against domestic abuse or the threat of it. 

There may be allegations of criminal offences which can be addressed separately. Obviously the police may also be involved.  The priority will be to ensure everyone’s safety in particular your children’s.  We will do this in the civil courts.

There are a variety of orders which can be sought under various pieces of legislation but it will usually be most appropriate in the context of a family or relationship to consider either an occupation order or a non-molestation order. There is also detailed legislation to ensure that children are properly protected from domestic violence and its effects; there are numerous checks and safeguards in any court process involving children designed to ensure that potential areas of concern are flagged at an early stage so that they can be addressed and resolved appropriately.

An occupation order can govern the occupation of a property and its environs, either to completely exclude one party from attendance or to regulate carefully access to different parts of a property.  These are draconian orders and are therefore not made lightly. The court must look at all the circumstances, including the access to housing of both parties and the children. If, on balance, the court believes the applicant or a child is likely to suffer more harm if the order is not made than the person to be excluded would suffer if the order was made, then the court must make the order sought.

A non-molestation order does not, as its name might suggest, refer only to physical molestation. It can cover any type of violence, threats of violence, harassment or pestering. The court must again look at all the circumstances, including the health, safety and well-being of the applicant and any child.

If it is very urgent and appropriate, we can apply for these orders without any notice to the other person.  If the case is less urgent then it is common to try to reach an agreement with the other person if possible and this can often be done by the giving of undertakings (solemn and binding promises to the court) to regulate behaviour. Where an order or undertaking is breached, the consequences can be imprisonment.  Cases involving allegations of domestic abuse of any type must be handled extremely sensitively.  We have considerable experience of dealing sensitively in these cases and also can act very quickly as appropriate.