As concerns grow for victims of domestic abuse and the situation they find themselves in during this unprecedented time the Family Law Company explains how to obtain a non-molestation order (a type of injunction that may be sought by a victim of domestic abuse against their abuser).
If you think you need to obtain a non-molestation order first make sure you are in a place of safety.
The Government’s advice on social distancing does not prevent those who find themselves in an abusive relationship from moving to a place of safety.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has specifically said “Whilst our advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse is still able to leave and seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused –whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise.”
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 to seek urgent protection from the police.
When you are in a place of safety you should seek advice from a solicitor specialising in domestic abuse matters. They can guide you with the steps that can be taken to secure protection by way of a non-molestation order. In the current circumstances, the Courts are still accessible, particularly for emergency orders though telephone and video hearings. Solicitors can also be contacted by telephone, via email or through their website.
Assistance from the family Court: application for a non-molestation order
Whilst your solicitor will advise you as to whether or not you will be eligible for Legal Aid, you can still, regardless of this, seek the orders you need and then meet the costs of your application afterwards. The Government rules allow you to do this so that no one is left without immediate protection. This is known as DV waiver.
In order to progress with an application for Legal Aid you will need evidence of your financial circumstances including bank statements and wage slips/evidence of benefits. Your solicitor will advise you specifically about this according to your circumstances.
Next, you will need to spend some time with your solicitor who will take further details about the abuse you have suffered and explain this to the Court in a statement to support your non-molestation application. Once this has been prepared your solicitor will email this to you and telephone you to take you through your statement to ensure that it accurately reflects your position to the best of your knowledge and belief.
It would help if you can give your solicitor as much detail as possible to assist them and the Court in ensuring that any order made comes to the attention of your abuser.
The order can prohibit the abuser from contacting you by any method either directly or indirectly (through a third party) and, if necessary, from directly or indirectly contacting any children of the family. The Order can also provide an exclusion zone around your property so that the abuser cannot enter or come within a certain distance of it. In some cases, the Court can Order an abuser to leave the property and not to attempt to return or enter it. The Court has the power to make any necessary restrictions against the abuser to ensure your safety.
Once the application is submitted to the Court, your solicitor will be advised of when the Court will hear your application. This will be a telephone/video hearing. As this is an emergency hearing to protect you, your abuser will not be advised of it until after the non-molestation order has been made.
The abuser will be personally served, where possible, with the order and advised of a further hearing date. In the alternative they may be called by the Court to advise of the order or served by email. As these hearings are currently remote, you will be able to participate from your place of safety with your solicitor representing you. You will not be required to speak to the Judge, as your solicitor will do this nor to your abuser.
If your abuser seeks to dispute the order then the Court will allow it to remain in place and the matter will progress to a further hearing allowing additional evidence to be filed.
Non-molestation orders contain the power of arrest, and if the Order is breached, you should immediately call the police.
If you require further assistance then support agencies are available across Devon.
The Devon Helpdesk for Splitz can be contacted on: 0345 1551074 and enquiries can be made of SAFE through their website www.safe-services.org.uk
If you would like to discuss this article then please do get in touch by telephone 01392 421777 or by email [email protected]