One of the major problems the UK faces during lockdown is the issue of domestic abuse. It is a sad fact that many more individuals are suffering during the current pandemic.
Some reassuring news has been announced as councils across the UK have now been allocated £125 million to provide assistance to the victims of domestic abuse. This much needed injection of cash will provide additional access to counselling, therapy and housing.
In addition, the Domestic Abuse Bill will come into force later this year. The Bill provides that perpetrators of domestic abuse will no longer be able to cross-examine their victims within family proceedings and instead, the court will appoint individuals to cross-examine on their behalf. The Bill also places a duty on local authorities to support victims in safe accommodation.
So, from a legal perspective, what help is available now? The police should always be the first port of call. Another option is to obtain assistance from the family Court. There are two orders that typically can be obtained by family lawyers; Non Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders.
A Non Molestation Order will protect the victim against any further abuse as the same places very strict limitations on what that person can or cannot do. These Orders also have a Power of Arrest attached, which means that any breach can result in the individual being taken into custody and presented to the Courts. This type of work requires to be dealt with urgently and many individuals fail to realise this can be done the same day.
The other type of Order is an Occupation Order. This is particularly important in cases where parties are living together. Strictly speaking, both parties have a right of occupation to that property, but it would be clearly inappropriate for both parties to remain in the property where there is a risk of domestic abuse. Occupation Orders are short-term orders to exclude one party from the property. They are frequently made alongside Non Molestation Orders and are therefore a good tool to protect an individual.
It is important for any victim of domestic abuse to be made aware that vital protection is available to them, which can be easily accessed with the assistance of a qualified lawyer.