Domestic Abuse - Solicitors
Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Hub - call 0300 123 5101
National 24 Hour Helpline 0808 2000 247
Solicitors can help you access the civil law (non-criminal law) in a number of ways.
- Imposing injunctions - an injunction is a 'civil law order' which you can use to help keep you safe. It places legal restrictions on your partner to try to prevent or limit any further violence.
- Getting a divorce or a judicial separation - (a legally recognised separation). A solicitor would deal with the proceedings and any financial settlements you need to make. Divorce proceedings can't be commenced within the first year of marriage but you can instruct a solicitor as soon as you separate so they can serve your divorce petition as soon as the year is over.
- You may be entitled to help with your legal costs through the Legal Help scheme (commonly known as Legal aid). You have to apply for Legal Help through a solicitor.
Injunctions are not a safe option for all women as some violent men are not afraid of being arrested and/or of going to prison. You will be the best judge of whether your partner is likely to obey a court order.
- Occupation Orders (sometimes known as ouster injunctions).
These injunctions will exclude your partner from your property.
- Non molestation orders
These injunctions prohibit your partner from assaulting you and/or your children. It can also prevent your partner from coming within a certain area and can stop any other specific behaviour that's relevant. It can also stop your partner from getting someone else to do those things for him/her. If your abuser breaches a non-molestation order he/she can be arrested immediately and prosecuted in a criminal court.
- Without notice injunctions
An application for a non-molestation order (and in exceptional cases an occupation order) can be made without notice being given to your abuser. You therefore already have the protection of an order when your partner is served with details of the allegations you have made and when they have to attend court.
There's been an important development with regard to the rights of women who have been married to a British person for less than the required time necessary to gain leave to settle in the UK but who need to leave their husbands due to domestic violence.
There are several agencies who can advise women about immigration and financial issues with relation to domestic violence. Always seek specialist advice on these and other related issues. You can contact the following organisations for advice on domestic violence and immigration:
- Southall Black Sisters - 020 8571 9595
- Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants - 0207 251 8706
- National Women's Aid Federation - 08457 023 468
- Women Acting in Today's Society (W.A.I.T.S) - 0121 440 7000 (West Midlands)
Proceedings in civil courts
The survivor is the 'applicant' or the driver of the case. Applicant only has to convince the civil court on the 'balance of probabilities' - i.e. it is more likely than not that the abuse occurred in the criminal court the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offence has occurred survivors might be more successful in the civil court if the defendant is found guilty in the criminal court they will receive a punishment. If the applicant in the civil court is successful they receive a remedy - injunction/payment of damages etc.
How to get help for civil actions
There are two organisations that can help you take civil action to increase your safety.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence
The National Centre for Domestic Violence helps victims of domestic abuse obtain orders (non-molestation and injunctions) to protect them from further abuse. The service is completely free and is designed to be fast, user-friendly and empowering for victims. If you are eligible for public funding, NCDV will arrange for a solicitor to meet you at court and represent you. (If you are eligible for public funding you will have to repay your legal costs if your solicitor also assists you to recover or preserve money or property.) If you are not eligible for public funding, NCDV will provides assistance (a “McKenzie Friend”) who will accompany and sit with you throughout the court hearings. This service is completely free.
Making a referral to NCDV
- You can make a referral online at www.ncdv.org.uk
- Phone Free phone: 0800 970 2070 (press option 1)
- Text: NCDV to 60777 and we’ll call back
DV Assist can help you to arrange and apply for either a Non Molestation Order, Occupancy Order, or a Prohibited Steps Order
They help prepare all paperwork and confirm your eligibility for public funding, if applicable (legal aid), and they can also direct you to a specialist Legal Aid Agency approved solicitor.
Making a referral to DV Assist
Accredited Solicitors in Domestic Violence – Resolution (the Solicitors Family Law Association) lists solicitors who have undertaken supplementary training to become domestic violence specialists. You can obtain details of Resolution Domestic Abuse specialists from their website.