A domestic violence injunction is a court order, which prohibits a person from doing something, that can be obtained from a County Court. In appropriate cases the Legal Services Commission may grant legal aid to publicly fund the employment of a solicitor who is a divorce specialist to make the application to the court. The availability of that help depends on the strength of the claim and the applicant’s financial situation.
There are two types of orders in family proceedings available to married or unmarried couples who live together:-
1. Non Molestation Order
This type of court order prohibits the person named from molesting the applicant and may include a prohibition on using or threatening violence, approaching, intimidating, harassing or pestering the applicant or instructing any other person to do so.
2. Occupation Order
This type of court order dictates who can live in the home and usually instructs one person to vacate the property and not to return. It is usually used to remove a violent partner from the home.
A divorce specialist can obtain a domestic violence injunction on an emergency basis without prior notice to the respondent in cases where the applicant is concerned about personal safety if the respondent knew about the proceedings in advance of an order being made. In this case the order is in force as soon as the respondent knows about it.
Most applicants should ask the court to add a ‘power of arrest’ to the court order which makes them substantially more effective. A power of arrest will only be attached to an order if the respondent has used violence or has threatened to use violence and is likely to do so again. In these cases if the respondent then breaches the prohibition in the court order, a request to the police should result in immediate arrest and the applicant may then apply for the respondent’s committal to prison.
In domestic violence situations where the parties are not married or not living together it is possible to obtain a ‘common law injunction’ which cannot have a power of arrest attached to it. In these circumstances it may also be possible to obtain an anti-harassment injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Breach of this type of injunction is an arrestable offence carrying up to 5 years in prison.
Housing Refuges and Woman’s Aid :-
In some case of domestic violence it may be necessary for one of the parties to leave the joint residence to escape a violent partner. Support and temporary accommodation may be available from Woman’s Aid at a refuge or other emergency accommodation particularly if children are involved. If an injunction does not subsequently settle the matter or if the partner is too frightened to take out an injunction then the Local Authority must grant that person public housing priority as a homeless person.
Our nationwide network of divorce specialist solicitors will give initial free advice on an application for a domestic violence injunction and on all other matters relating to matrimonial disputes including dissolution of marriage, separation, finance and agreements and court orders relating to custody and access to children without further obligation. If after talking to us you decide not to take matters further you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged anything at all.