Domestic violence and domestic abuse

Domestic violence and domestic abuse

According to the office of national statistics, in the year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.6 million women and 786,000 men). The police recorded 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2019, an increase of 24% from the previous year.

We should note that the above figures are reported figures. Many victims suffer in silence, in fear of what may happen if they report the crime. It is not just the criminal repercussions of their abuser that they fear but the emotional turmoil they endure. During lockdown, when victims are being faced with constantly living with their abuser, raising the alarm must be so much harder to do.

It is important for victims of domestic abuse and coercive control to be provided with the information they need to take steps to free themselves from violence and abuse.

The following national helplines are available to all:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Phone: 0808 2000 247

Women’s Aid Domestic Violence Helpline

Free 24-hour national helpline run by Women’s Aid and Refuge.

Phone: 0808 2000 247

Domestic Violence Assist

Specialises in assistance to obtain emergency injunctions from being further abused.

Phone: 0800 195 8699

Men’s Advice Line

Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse.

Phone: 0808 801 0327

National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people.

Phone: 0800 999 5428

National Centre for Domestic Violence

Specialises in assistance to get emergency injunctions from being further abused.

Phone: 0800 970 2070

National Stalking Helpline

Guidance on the law, how to report stalking, gathering evidence, staying safe and reducing the risk.

Phone: 0808 802 0300

Victim Support

Free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family and friends.

Phone: 08 08 16 89 111


Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors, is a legal support service, designed to help protect women against domestic abuse.

Phone: 0203 745 7707

Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse.

Phone: 0800 999 5428

Victims can also take practical steps to protect themselves by doing the following:

  1. Ensuring a fully charged mobile phone is at hand in case of emergencies
  2. Taking note of both the emergency and local police station telephone numbers (the local police can now be contacted by dialling 101) and the numbers of any relevant organisation, such as social services
  3. Memorising telephone numbers for trusted friends and relatives
  4. Agreeing a code word to use when calling others to identify that the police should be alerted
  5. Asking trusted friends or relatives to check on you
  6. Keeping your car fuelled and ready to go with a spare key at hand
  7. Having a bag of essential items at a place of safety containing cash, clothing, important documents and telephone numbers read

What is domestic abuse and violence?

Domestic violence or abuse includes all kinds of physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between people who are, or were, in a relationship with each other or are family members over the age of 16. There is no statutory definition of domestic abuse, however the domestic abuse bill will create one.

Domestic violence or abuse may include:

  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Damaging property
  • Threats
  • Criticism
  • Harassment
  • Controlling behaviour, such as:
      • Isolating someone from sources of support;
      • Reducing their independence;
      • Trying to control their behaviour; or
      • Exploiting them
  • Coercive behaviour, such as trying to harm, punish or frighten someone by use of:
      • Violence;
      • Threats;
      • Humiliation; or
      • Intimidation

Emergency protection orders

The courts have wide powers to protect you from violence committed by, or threatened by, a person associated with you.

Non molestation order

A non-molestation order is used to stop someone from:

  • Using or threatening violence against you
  • Using or threatening violence to a child
  • Molesting you in any way

Molesting can include:

Behaviour that harms, troubles, vexes, annoys or inconveniences you or any relevant children.

Molestation can be direct or committed indirectly and includes behaviour, such as:

  • Physical harm
  • Verbal abuse or threats
  • Pestering another person
    • In writing or through social media
    • Through a third party
  • Intimidation
  • Persistent abusive text message, phone calls or messages on social media
  • Threats
  • Harassment

Molesting can also include pushing, punching, slapping, hair pulling, throwing objects and spitting.

A non-molestation order can also be used to keep a person away from a particular place such as the area around your home or your workplace.

For an application to be successful there must be evidence:

  • Of the behaviour complained of
  • That the applicant or a child are in need of protection
  • That an order is needed to control the behaviour of the abuser

An order only becomes effective when it has been served on the abuser. Typically, a non-molestation order is made for six to twelve months but it is possible to apply for further orders. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence punishable with up to five years imprisonment or as a contempt of court.

Occupation order

An occupation order determines who will live at the family home. An occupation order can be used to exclude someone completely from a property or can set out rules to enable a property to be shared.

Granting an order depends on the relationship of the parties and their rights to occupy the property in question. For an application to be successful the “balance of harm” test must be applied. Essentially the judge will consider whether you or any child is likely to suffer significant harm due to the conduct of the other party if the occupation order is not made. The test includes the need to consider whether making an occupation order will cause greater harm to the other party and any child.

If the judge does not find sufficient reason under the balance of harm test, an application might still be brought.

The court will consider all the circumstances of the case, including the:

  • Housing needs of the parties
  • Financial resources of the parties
  • Likely effect of any decision by the court not to exercise its powers on the health, safety or wellbeing of you and any child
  • Conduct of the parties to each other

Occupation orders are intended to determine temporary living arrangements to give the applicant and respondent time to organise where they will live and how they will divide their property.

An occupation order can be made for a period of up to six months, but it is possible to apply for further orders when this expires.

If you need any advice or help concerning domestic violence or abuse, please do not hesitate to contact me at familylawyerlondon.

Posted by admin in Domestic violence
Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding?

Are pre-nuptial agreements legally binding?

The three stage test used by the court:

1. The agreement must be freely entered into;
2. Both parties must have a full understanding of the terms of the agreement;
3. It must be fair to hold the parties to this agreement.

If you are considering entering into a prenup the following may help with the decision making.

Five Advantages

1. You can make it clear, and agree at the outset of your marriage, as to whether a particular asset is yours alone, or whether you are happy for it to be shared on any future divorce. This provides certainty and avoids lengthy and costly litigation in the future, which in turn saves you in legal fees.

2. You will provide each other with disclosure of your assets before any agreement is reached, allowing you to agree to protect any assets, such as gifts or property received before the marriage. You can also protect your assets from any of your partner’s debts now or in the future.

3. Entering into an agreement should lead to fewer arguments about your finances and will help you communicate about financial matters during the marriage.

4. A prenup will protect any assets ring-fenced for your children and will set out what will happen to your assets on your death, ensuring that your children are taken care of.

5. If you are concerned that your partner wishes to marry you for your money, the prenup should help to put your mind at rest.

Five Disadvantages

1. Prenups are not legally binding, however, following the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42, the court will uphold a prenup if it satisfies the three stage test above.

2. The prenup cannot anticipate what will happen in the future. If there is a significant change of circumstances, it is unlikely that the prenup will be upheld by the family court. In an attempt to ensure that the prenup is upheld by the court, the document should be reviewed on a significant change of circumstances, resulting in further legal fees and potential upset, and puts a strain on your relationship.

3. The court is unlikely to uphold a prenup that is no longer in the best interests of any children of the marriage. Any agreement reached will be dependent on the circumstances of the children at the time of the divorce.

If you would like to know more about prenuptial agreements, or if you are considering entering into one, email me at familylawyerlondon.

Posted by admin in Agreements, Divorce
Same-sex divorce

Same-sex divorce

The court has the power and jurisdiction to deal with same-sex divorces under The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Jurisdiction and Recognition of Judgments) Regulations 2014.

There was more than three times the number of same-sex divorces in 2017 than in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics. There were 428 divorces of same-sex couples in 2018, increasing from 338 in 2017; of these, three-quarters were among female couples.

Unreasonable behaviour was the most common fact relied upon for same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples cannot rely on adultery as a fact in their divorce petition, but they can rely on the following:

  1. Behaviour – the other party has acted in such a way that you cannot be expected to live with them. This fact cannot be used if you have lived with the other party for a total of six months after the date of the last incident you are relying on.
  2. Desertion – the other party has left, without reason, for a continuous period of at least two years prior to your petition.
  3. Separation – two years – the parties have lived separately for at least two years, and you have the consent of the other party to divorce on this basis. You can still live in the same home during the separation, but you must not ‘live as a couple’ for six months during or after the separation period.
  4. Separation – five years – the parties have lived separately for a continuous period of five years (no consent required). You can still live in the same home during the separation, but you must not ‘live as a couple’ for six months during or after the separation period.

If you are considering commencing divorce proceedings, you should consult a family law specialist to provide you with initial advice and help you to understand your next steps.

If you would like a free telephone consultation, email me at familylawyerlondon.

Posted by admin in Divorce, 0 comments
Should I start divorce proceedings?

Should I start divorce proceedings?

You may, however, be concerned about the hostility and upset this may cause you, your partner and the children. Being sensitive to the timings can help to keep the divorce as amicable as possible, but if the other party is not on board, it can be upsetting.

I am often consulted by clients who are not emotionally ready to start divorce proceedings but want to learn more about their rights and the divorce process. They are dealing with a range of emotions and each client needs their own time to work through this.  Some clients are ready to get started when they come to see me for the first time. Some are not, and that is perfectly ok. Many clients inform me that the timing is not right because they have family holiday with the children approaching or because there has been a bereavement in the family recently, and for them it just would not be appropriate.

It is important to consider the welfare of your children when taking this decision, however, my advice to all my clients is that their welfare is just as important.  The sooner they start divorce proceedings, the sooner they can take steps to move forward and think positively about their future.  A simple straightforward divorce could take eight to twelve months to complete. This can extend to two, and in some circumstances three years, when financial matters are being dealt with at court.

My role as a family lawyer is to make sure that you understand your legal rights and to support you through this process. Having a lawyer does help to lessen the burden, as even an amicable divorce can be stressful.

If you are unsure about starting divorce proceedings, please do contact me. I will provide you with initial advice and set out the options available to you, so that you have the information to make an informed decision about whether this is what is right for you.

Email me at familylawyerlondon.

Posted by admin in Divorce, 0 comments