Domestic violence legal remedies

When a marriage breaks down, tackling the practical implications relating to finances and children can be difficult enough in itself. But if issues of domestic violence are involved, matters often become far more complicated. Negotiating on how to split assets or which parent children should live with becomes tricky or impossible. Furthermore, if the domestic violence is ongoing, achieving any sort of agreement on the way forward may be superseded by more immediate concerns such as how to protect yourself and your children.

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Interim measures

If you are experiencing domestic violence, one of the most difficult steps is often acknowledging that you are a victim. The legal scope of domestic violence protections is not limited to violence which is physical or sexual in its nature; it also now extends to what is called ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ - essentially psychological and emotional abuse.

The immediate steps to take in the event of domestic violence are contacting the police and finding somewhere safe to stay. The police may decide to make a domestic violence protection notice (DVPN) which allows them to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident. These protections generally ban the alleged perpetrator of violence, with immediate effect, from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim The DVPN must be reviewed by a magistrate after 48 hours, who may decide to impose a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) which extends the restrictions for 14 to 28 days.

Court orders

You should ask a lawyer about the best way to protect yourself and your family from domestic violence. There are two main legal remedies which can be applied by the court

Non-molestation order

This is a type of injunction designed to prevent your partner or ex-partner from being violent or threatening violence, intimidating, harassing or pestering you or your children. It can be made against anyone who has demonstrated these types of behaviours and with whom you have had a close relationship - such as a spouse, civil partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, co-habitee or family member. This type of order can apply to any sort of contact, including by telephone, email, social media.

Occupation order

This injunction aims to deal with the situation where you are living together in a shared family home with the perpetrator of domestic violence. The court can decide to order them to move out and stay away from the home, or apply specific restrictions such as requiring them to sleep in a different bedroom. An occupation order may be granted in addition to a non-molestation order.

Domestic violence and divorce

Sometimes domestic violence leads to divorce; in other cases it is a result of divorce. Either way, it can make it impossible to agree on the practical implications of your divorce, such as sorting out finances or deciding on arrangements for your children. You may need to go to court to decide on the important matters, which is often a more lengthy process. If tensions are resolved over time, you may then be able to use an online divorce service which can speed up the divorce.

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