3 May, 16

Domestic Violence & Public Funding

What is Domestic Abuse?

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

(Cross Government definition announced 18th September 2012)

The Government further defines domestic violence as:

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

  • One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime
  • About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
  • On average, 35 assaults happen before the police are called
  • 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17s and 24% of 18-24s have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults

Sources: Women’s Aid, NSPCC and Parity

Injunctions

There are two broad types of Civil Injunction:

1. Non Molestation order

2. Occupation order

You may need one or both if you are a victim.

A Non Molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner, ex-partner or family member from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children. The power to make an Order is contained in section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996.

An Occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. If you do not feel safe continuing to live with your partner, or if you have left home because of violence, but want to return and exclude your abuser, you may want to apply for an Occupation order. It may be that you urgently need an injunction to stop someone threatening or hurting you, or for someone to leave the property you live in. It may be that you need to stop someone coming to your home.

How long does it take to get an injunction?

Our solicitors prioritise requests for help in domestic violence situations.

We are able to offer appointments within 24 hours of your first enquiry and if appropriate, obtain the Order from Court within 24 hours after the first appointment.

We understand that speed is of the essence in matter such as this and we therefore offer a flexible and robust service to our domestic violence clients. We will also represent you at Court ourselves, providing you with consistency of representation throughout.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse then there are important practical steps to take:

1. Tell someone – any Health professional, police, your child’s School, a Solicitor

2. Visit your GP or local hospital’s Accident and Emergency department to document your injuries

3. Photograph your injuries

4. Save any relevant evidence e.g.: text messages, Face book posts, Voicemails

Public Funding (Legal Aid)

Public funding is available for Domestic Violence matters and in many cases, we will be able to make the application to Court without delay. You may be eligible for legal aid even if for example you are employed/self-employed subject to you paying a small contribution. The Legal Aid Agency have produced an eligibility calculator which can be found here.

At GT Stewart we pride ourselves on our commitment to publicly-funded services.
Since April 2013 there have been changes to the scope of public funding for family matters and public funding is no longer available for such matters as divorce, financial issues arising from a relationship breakdown or contact/residence disputes unless there is documentary evidence of domestic violence.

Public Funding is still available for clients who require advice or representation on:

  • Obtaining a Non Molestation Order/Occupation Order against a perpetrator of domestic abuse
  • Social Services Intervention/Court Proceedings issued by Social Services regarding their children (Care Proceedings)
  • Prohibited Steps Orders (to prevent removal of child from care/from jurisdiction)
  • Children matters where the client has been the victim of domestic abuse and the perpetrator is the opponent
  • Obtaining a protective Children Order where the child is at risk of harm (such as an Order preventing the child living with an abuser)

Should you not meet the above and require assistance for a family matter you will need to provide evidence of the following:

  • An injunction or undertaking given in court in the past 24 months.
  • A conviction, caution or on-going criminal proceedings relating to an assault.
  • Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) plan in place.
  • Findings made at court relating to the other party’s behaviour.
  • Admission to a refuge within the last 24 hours.

Further information on evidence can be found at the Legal Aid Agency website.

If the matter in which you require advice or representation is one in which we may obtain public funding, you must still prove you are financially eligible. If you receive benefits or a low income, it is likely you would qualify for public funding.

We would encourage all potential clients to check their financial eligibility

If you require our services for a matter that is not covered by public funding, or you do not qualify for public funding on financial grounds, we have prepared extremely competitive Fixed Fees.

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