Domestic Abuse

_MG_3468We were joined in 2016 by Carrie Meikle who is a solicitor who specialises in representing clients who have been subjected to domestic abuse. Since joining us Carrie has joined the East and Mid Devon Domestic Abuse Forum and given training to Devon domestic abuse agencies.

Carrie returned to East Devon and Taunton following several years working in Plymouth – including a spell in a team dedicated to representing clients who had been subjected to domestic abuse. The team dealt with the obtaining of protective orders and then dealing with related issues around child arrangements.

Carrie has considerable expertise in assisting clients deal with what are very difficult cases.

Legal Aid

Legal aid is still available to assist those who have been subjected to domestic abuse in obtaining protection. There is a means test.

Many women who need protection from domestic abuse will be in a weak position financially. Legal aid is very often available.

Please ask the details.

After protective arrangements are in place legal aid can also be available for dealing with child arrangements and financial arrangements.

Legal aid can also be available for dealing with children arrangements and financial arrangements if there is alternative evidence from agencies (including the police and social services and doctors) that there has been domestic abuse within the last five years.

The definition of domestic abuse

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

Domestic abuse

any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

•psychological

•physical

•sexual

•financial

•emotional

Controlling behaviour

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

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.

These are not legal definitions– they are relevant to the provision of assistance to victims of support from government agencies but they make less of a difference to obtaining protection from the court.

The main civil law which is used to obtain court orders for the protection of those who have been subjected to domestic abuse (and their children) is the is the Family Law Act 1996.

The Family Law Act 1996

Through the provisions of the Family Law Act the courts are able to make:

  • Non-Molestation Orders– Which provide protection for a person and relevant children.
  • Occupation Orders– Which determine who may occupy a property.

The Court is less concerned with the broad definitions above – but more concerned with understanding what has happened and then making an appropriate order within the parameters of the Act.

The outcome of cases depends upon the facts.

If you have been subjected to domestic abuse and want to know your options then please get in touch without delay.

If you qualify for legal aid – then provided we are not dealing with financial issues – all of your costs will be paid by the Legal Aid Agency – in other words your assistance will be free for you.