fbpx

Get in touch

Domestic Abuse During the Covid-19 Outbreak


Now that the Government has issued guidance which puts a large proportion of the UK in lockdown, meaning that people are confined to their homes and direct social interaction is kept to a minimum, Domestic Violence groups are understandably predicting an increase in incidents of Domestic Abuse.

Indeed, we acknowledge that being trapped with an abuser is a daunting (even terrifying) situation for many people who have been and continue to be victimised, however, there are still ways that you can get help even during this difficult period we are experiencing.

Despite this lockdown, there are still ways that you can protect yourself. If you fear for your safety, of course your first port of call should be the police. However, the options discussed below may also assist you.

There are many support networks out there for people who have experienced Domestic Abuse, both online and on the telephone, including Chayn, Refuge and Women’s Aid. These organisations are recommending that those who experience Abuse should find small moments to take for themselves and think of a safe place they can go to should matters escalate.

People suffering abuse should also try their best to continue to have electronic contact with family and friends who would ordinarily know if something is not right or out of the ordinary.

While this is all good advice, it should be remembered that there are still legal avenues which can be explored to protect yourself, despite the current situation with Corona Virus. Some options include a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order.

Domestic Abuse

Non-Molestation Order

This is an order which can be made by the Court to prevent your partner from engaging in violence against you, as well as threats of violence and/or pestering.
Before granting an order, the Court will have regard to all of the circumstances of the case including the need to secure the health and wellbeing of the person suffering and any children involved. This means that, if you can show a genuine need for the order to be made, the Court will grant it.

Non-molestation orders must be granted for a specified period, or alternatively until further order of the Court.

 

Occupation Order

An Occupation Order can exclude a person from a property for a period of time or until further order of the Court. There are different factors considered by the Court depending on your relationship to the other party and whether you have a right to occupy the property.

 

If you have the right to occupy

If you already have the right to occupy the property, either based on joint ownership, tenancy or any statutory right you will be entitled to make an application.

However, the Court must consider the following factors before granting an order:
1. The housing needs of the parties and any children involved;
2. The financial resources of the parties;
3. The effect of any such order on the health, safety or well-being of the parties and any children involved;
4. The conduct of the parties.

That being said, the Court must also consider the balance of harm test. This means that if it appears that you or any child is likely to suffer significant harm due to the conduct of the other party if an order is not made, the Court will make an order, unless:
1. The other party or any child would suffer significant harm if the order was made; and
2. The harm suffered by the other party is as great or greater than the harm the you will suffer at the hands of the other party.

 

If you are a former spouse or civil partner

If you are a former spouse or civil partner, the property must have been or intended to be the family home. The order must contain the following:
1. If the you are in occupation – that you have the right not to be excluded from the property by the other party for a specified period;
2. If the you are not in occupation – that you should be given the right to enter and occupy the property for a specified period.

The order may also contain provisions for excluding the other party from the property or the local area to the property. The Court must consider all of the factors listed below before making an order:
1. The housing needs of the parties and any children involved;
2. The financial resources of the parties;
3. The effect of any such order on the health, safety or well-being of the parties and any children involved;
4. The conduct of the parties;
5. Time which has elapsed since the parties lived together; and
6. Any pending proceedings in respect of the marriage or the children.

If the application is to exclude the other party from the property, the balance of harm test must also be considered. The order cannot exceed 6 months in length, however this period can be extended any number of times by further orders of up to 6 months each if it is considered necessary to protect you.

 

You are a former cohabitant

If you cohabit with the other party, or you have previously cohabited with the other party, you are also able to make an application for an order. In order to do this, the other party must be entitled to occupy the property. The property in question must be, or have been, or was intended to be your home.

If the order is granted, it must contain the provisions discussed above in relation to whether you are in occupation or whether you are not in occupation. The Court must consider the following factors when deciding to grant an order:
1. The housing needs of the parties and any children involved;
2. The financial resources of the parties;
3. The effect of any such order on the health, safety or well-being of the parties and any children involved;
4. The conduct of the parties;
5. The nature of the parties relationship;
6. If there are any children who are the children of both parties or that both parties have Parental Responsibility for;
7. The length of time since the parties cohabited; and
8. Any pending proceedings in respect of the property or the children.

Although the balance of harm test must be considered, unlike in the previous two situations, the Court are not obliged to grant an order if the test is met, only to consider it.

Even during these unprecedented times, the Courts are still operational. At Austin Kemp, we are working as usual and can arrange telephone appointments at a time to suit you. We are keen to help anyone that needs it so if you feel you need advice, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a consultation.

For further information on Domestic Abuse and Divorce please click this link.

Contributed by Andrew Scott | Solicitor

 

How can our expert family law solicitors help you?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues:

 

Contact our expert family law solicitors for advice

For more information call our family law solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in our:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Please contact us for more details.

Was this article helpful?
YesNo

25th March 2020

Make the first move

Find out how we can help you, call us on
0845 862 5001 or email us today.

Contact Us
Back to Top