Being subjected to physical, sexual, psychological, or even verbal abuse by the person closest to you is torture. It can cause detrimental effects that lead to unhappiness, fear, and loss of confidence. Moreover, domestic violence affects your children’s psychological well-being. If the prospect of the future seems uncertain and you are living in a nightmare every single day, it’s time to seek help and protection from your abuser.
What to do?
First, you need to look for a family law expert or family solicitor who can help you apply for a non-molestation order. It is a legally-binding order issued by a Family Court that prohibits your abuser from doing certain actions that threaten your safety and well-being. You can also apply directly for an injunction at the court by submitting FL401. The form is downloadable from the website of the Ministry of Justice or from the court nearest you. The application for a domestic violence non-molestation order is free.
Why seek legal assistance?
Although you can apply for yourself, having someone who knows the law and works with you throughout the whole legal process makes the ordeal easier. Your solicitor will help you prepare a witness statement that details your relationship with the respondent, relevant children, history of domestic violence, and recent events that make you decide to seek legal intervention.
What do you need during the application?
It is vital to prove your relationship with the respondent, as required by Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996. You need to establish that you are an ‘associated person’ by:
- Being married or engaged to be married to the respondent
- Being in a civil partnership or previously agreed to have a civil partnership
- Living together or have lived in the same house as an opposite-sex or same-sex couple
- Having a child together or parental duty for the same child
- Being relatives (by blood, marriage, cohabitation, or civil partnership)
- Being parties to the same family proceeding for the same child
You also need to support your petition for a non-molestation order with documents that prove the abusive behaviour of the respondent. It may include emails, letters, or text messages. If you were previously engaged or formed a civil partnership with your abuser, a ring would be strong evidence or a statement from one of the witnesses who attended the wedding ceremony.
What are the conditions stipulated in a non-molestation order?
If proven that you need protection, the Family Court will grant you a non-molestation order that deters your abuser from doing the following acts:
- Threatening or using any form of violence towards you or your children
- Sending abusive letters, texts, and other forms of communication
- Using abusive language towards
- Coming within a certain distance of your home or workplace
When any of the stipulations is breached by the respondent or by using another person to do it for him, you can call the police for the arrest of the perpetrator. If found guilty of seriously violating the terms of the non-molestation order, the abuser can go to prison for up to 5 years. A minor or initial breach may not entail a custodial sentence, but will be given a warning and corresponding fine.