The Court is introducing a revised practice direction, coming into force on 2 October 2017 to provide better protection for the vulnerable. It reinforces the seriousness of domestic abuse and requires the Court to carefully consider whether domestic abuse has taken place. This also shows that the Court takes false allegations of domestic abuse seriously.
This increase in protection for victims of domestic abuse is demonstrated in the new, and much broader, definition of domestic abuse which has been expanded to include:
‘…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. This can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse. Domestic abuse also includes culturally specific forms of abuse including, but not limited to, forced marriage, honour-based violence, dowry-related abuse and transnational marriage abandonment.’
What can you do if you are a victim of domestic abuse?
There is always need for clarity in cases involving domestic abuse and the Court prefers to work from a clear set of facts where at all possible. The Court will want to see corroborating evidence showing what has happened. It prefers not to be in a position where a decision has to be made on one person’s word against another’s.
You can help your case by keeping any documents or other evidence you may have showing what has happened in your relationship. Such evidence is incredibly valuable and includes:
- Text messages
- Police reports
- GP letters
- School reports
- MASH referral letters
- Letters from organisations such as SPLITZ
Also consider whether anybody else has witnessed the abuse that you have and may therefore be willing to produce a statement for the Court and come to Court to testify to what they have seen or heard.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or facing a Court hearing which involves domestic abuse, the Family Law Company can help you. Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice and support.