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Abusive relationships

Domestic abuse includes all kinds of behaviour that is meant to hurt or frighten you. It ranges from physical violence to cruel words and threats. You do not have to tolerate this kind of behaviour. Our specialist family and divorce team is here to help and can advise you about your options.

You may have already reported any violence to the police or be about to do so. The police may arrest your partner if they have the power to do so and hold them for a short time (possibly overnight).   The police will then normally investigate to see whether a crime has been committed.  If your partner is charged, they may be fined, given another type of sentence, or be “bound over to keep the peace” (told they must behave or they will be bought back to court). In cases of serious or repeated violence, your partner could be sent to prison.

Action by the police may stop your partner behaving badly towards you again, especially if they are on bail. The police or court can impose conditions preventing them from coming near your home, your work place or from contacting you or the children. They can also impose other conditions if they think these are needed to protect you.

If your partner is prosecuted for assault in the criminal courts, this will not resolve who has the right to live in your home and the criminal courts cannot impose an Order saying how your partner must behave or restricting where they go. This is when you would need to speak to our family team who can discuss your options in more detail.

Not everyone has to apply for an Injunction to be safe from a violent or abusive partner. Sometimes a strongly worded letter from one of our family and divorce specialists is all that is required to stop your partner abusing you again.

If you need a Court Order (assuming that the police are unable to assist), we will apply to the court for an Injunction. A written statement is filed describing what has happened. You will have to swear that the contents of the statement are true. Your partner is usually given 2 days notice of the hearing and the application must be given to them personally.

Orders that the Court can make

Court Orders generally fall into two categories:-

  • Orders about the way your partner should behave in the future – “Non Molestation Orders”
  • Orders saying who has the right to live in the home – “Occupation Orders”

Non Molestation Orders

These Orders state that your partner must not use or threaten to use violence against you or “harass, pester or intimidate” you. This can also apply to any children living with you. The Order is generally written in wide terms to stop all forms of unpleasant behaviour including, for example threatening phone calls. It will also stop your partner getting someone else to harass you.

For a Non Molestation Order, you will have to tell the court about how the violence or abuse has affected you. If you have received medical treatment because of the violence or abuse, a doctor’s report and photographs of any injuries will be strong evidence.

Occupation Orders

If your partner’s behaviour has been serious enough for them to be kept apart from you in order to protect you, then you will need an Order to say who can live in the home. An Occupation Order can order any number of the following:-

  • One partner to leave the home
  • One partner to let the other return to the home
  • One partner not to return to the home
  • One partner to keep away from the home 
  • One partner to stay out of parts of the home

The courts can also make Orders concerning:-

  • Who will repair and maintain the home
  • Who will pay the mortgage or rent and other costs and
  • Who can use and/or care for things in the home

You cannot use an Occupation Order to change the ownership of the property. This may need to be resolved  through separate legal proceedings.

For an Occupation Order the Judge needs to know:-

  • You and your partner’s housing needs (and the needs of any children you have)
  • How much money you both have
  • How any Order will affect you and your partner’s (and any children’s) health, safety and wellbeing
  • Your behaviour towards each other

If you are not married, the Judge also needs to know:

  • How long you have been living together
  • Whether you have children or expect children
  • How long you have been separated
  • Whether you are in any other legal proceedings together, such as other court proceedings about your family

If you are not eligible for public funding (Legal Aid), then your legal costs may be high. It may be possible to apply for an Order for Costs against your partner but there is no guarantee the court will make an Order especially if your partner is in receipt of public funding. 

If you require further information please contact one of our divorce and family lawyers:

Swati Somaiya
E-Mail swati.somaiya@spearingwaite.com
Direct Dial 0116 242 1255
Mobile 07739 507 532
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