Domestic Abuse

It is estimated that 2 million adults experience domestic abuse each year in England and Wales.

The cross-Government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour: is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

The Home Office has issued statutory guidance, 'Statutory Guidance Frameworks: Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate Family Relationship' which contains examples of controlling or coercive behaviour

Non-molestation and Occupation orders

The Family Law Act 1996 allows applicants to apply for:-

(a) 'Non-molestation orders' for the protection of parties and any children.

The Court can grant a non-molestation order, otherwise known as an injunction, prohibiting the other party from molesting you or a child. The word 'molestation' covers not only violence and threats of violence, but also pestering. Thus, such an order could be granted against another party who sends abusive letters to you, or who persistently telephones you in the middle of the night.

Non-molestation orders can be obtained by a wide range of 'associated persons'.

Where the other party breaches a non-molestation order they will be arrested for the crime of breaching the order and could be charged and brought before a criminal court.

(b) 'Occupation orders', which exclude the other party from occupation of the home.

Occupation orders can be applied for by a more limited range of people. Whether a person has a right to occupy the home, or is a former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, will determine whether they can apply at all and the relief they can obtain.
A power of arrest must generally be attached to an occupation order unless the court is satisfied that you would be adequately protected without it.

Emergency applications

The court can make both non-molestation and occupation orders without notice to the other party where it considers that it is 'just and convenient' to do so.

Forced Marriage

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 allows the court to make a forced marriage protection order to protect a person from being forced into marriage, or an attempt being made to force a person into marriage, or to protect a person who has been forced into marriage. The order can contain such prohibitions, restrictions or requirements and other terms as the court considers appropriate for the purposes of the order, and it may cover conduct outside England and Wales.

In deciding whether to exercise its powers under this section and, if so, in what manner, the court must have regard to all the circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of the person to be protected. In ascertaining that person's well-being, the court must, in particular, have such regard to the person's wishes and feelings (so far as they are reasonably ascertainable) as the court considers appropriate in the light of the person's age and understanding.

Legal Aid

We have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency to provide legal aid in family law matters and we would be happy to discuss with you whether you might be eligible for this type of funding.

If you are seeking legal advice and/or need representation to act for you in respect of any of the above matters then please call 01344 622141 or email