Expert family law advice in Wimbledon, South West London, Epsom and Surrey
Domestic abuse can be emotional, financial and psychological as well as physical or violent behaviour. Our approachable solicitors will offer sound and sensitive advice for your individual circumstances.
Our family team can also advise on related issues you may be considering: child arrangements, separation and finances, divorce, and arrangements for unmarried families.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse covers 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. It can include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse, harassment, stalking and forced marriage.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and do not wish to pursue criminal proceedings, the family courts can offer protection by granting a civil injunction.
There are two mains types of injunctions:
Non-Molestation Order – these orders prevent a partner, a former partner, a spouse or a wider family member or a member of your household from using or threatening violence, intimidation and harassment. A breach of a non-molestation Order is a criminal, arrestable offence.
Occupation Order – if you do not feel safe in the family home an occupation order can regulate the occupation of the property such as preventing the perpetrator from occupying the property or coming within a certain distance or allow you to return to the property if you have left in fear of your safety.
Our family solicitors can assist you in obtaining an injunction, including representation at court, and if you are in immediate danger we can also obtain an injunction on an emergency basis.
We also advise and represent those who have been accused of domestic violence and have been served with court paperwork.
If you are being subjected to domestic abuse by someone you are in a relationship with, an ex-partner or spouse, family member or someone you are living with, you can apply for a non-molestation order. This application can be made by giving notice to the other party or on an emergency basis without the other party being present at court if you are at risk of immediate harm. You will need to complete an application form and submit a statement summarising recent events and your reasons for needing the protection of an order. There is no court fee for the application. If you obtain an order on an emergency basis, the court will list a second hearing date within a week to give the other party an opportunity to respond to the application.
If you have been subjected to domestic abuse, you can apply to the court for an occupation order. An occupation order regulates the occupation of the family home and can include who is to live in the property, who is to pay the mortgage or rent and can also exclude a person from the property for a period of time. The decision whether to make such an order is not taken lightly by the courts and they are usually only in place for six months. The court will consider the parties respective housing and financial resources, past behaviour and take into account effect of the order on the health safety and wellbeing of the parties and any children.
It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. We can guide you through the court process and prepare a statement in response to the allegations made against you and arrange representation at court. If the order was obtained on an emergency basis, you will be required to attend a further court hearing where you will have the opportunity to confirm whether or not you intend to defend the proceedings. If you wish to defend the allegations, a final hearing will be listed where you will both be required to give oral evidence. It is important that you attend all court hearings, failing which the court may make an order in your absence.
Breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal arrestable offence, punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine, depending on the seriousness of the breach and the number of breaches. Occupation orders usually have a power of arrest attached to them, which allows a police offer to arrest the person in breach of the order and is punishable by imprisonment or a fine.