New domestic violence bill and the definition of domestic abuse banner


New domestic violence bill and the definition of domestic abuse

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The government has published a draft bill to help victims of domestic violence. This is good news for families experiencing domestic abuse or involved in family court proceedings for injunction and children orders. It is also welcome news for top London divorce solicitors and professionals involved in the family court process.

Domestic violence and the proposed changes to the law

The government bill makes a number of proposals including:

  • To stop the cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged abusive ex-partners in family court proceedings; and
  • To introduce a legal definition of domestic abuse to include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse; and
  • The creation of powers to make alleged domestic violence perpetrators go into behaviour-changing rehabilitation programmes to stop repeat behaviour; and
  • To make victims of domestic violence automatically able to get special protection when they give evidence in criminal trials; and
  • Further clarification of how “Clare's Law” should work. The law allows police officers  to tell a person if there are concerns over about previous violence committed by their partner; and
  • The creation of the job of national domestic abuse commissioner. They will improve the response and support for victims of domestic violence across public services.

The media and many professionals working with both victims of domestic violence and perpetrators have warmly welcomed the bill.  However, the bill will not become law for some time. The best London divorce solicitors recognise that victims of domestic violence need help and support now.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

If you have been subjected to domestic violence or have had allegations of domestic violence made against you then we can represent you in court proceedings for family court non-molestation or injunction orders or orders relating to your children.

For a confidential discussion about how we can help you and your family please call family law solicitor, Angelique Holm, on 0203 959 9123.

The domestic violence statistics

The domestic violence statistics reveal just how necessary this long awaited bill is. The Office for National Statistics show that in the year ending March 2018 there were two million domestic violence victims , broken down to 1.3m female victims and nearly 700,000 male victims of domestic abuse.

However, to top London divorce solicitors one of the disturbing statistics is that there are only 38 arrests made for every 100-recorded crimes. Out of the cases that eventually end up in criminal proceedings, 12% of the cases do not go ahead because the victim changes their mind or cannot face giving evidence.

Many people will not believe that the government spends an estimated 66 billion on tackling domestic violence and its impact on society; from health care costs to housing to the costs of policing. However, to the best London divorce solicitors, the cost that cannot be quantified is the most damaging; the impact on children caught up in domestic abuse in their families and the emotional impact on them.

Domestic violence and immigration 

The Step Up Migrant Women coalition of over 30 organisations have responded to the domestic violence bill by saying that the bill fails to offer adequate protection to migrants who are subject to domestic abuse.

With their specialist knowledge of UK immigration law and Home Office procedures, OTS Solicitors recognise how vulnerable migrants are to domestic abuse and how powerless they feel. Migrants fear deportation if they report incidents of domestic violence. Furthermore, as some migrants are not able to work legally in the UK they are particularly vulnerable to financial coercion and control.

Whilst the draft Bill includes the provision of £300,000 funding for black, Asian and minority ethnic organisations who support victims of domestic violence the Step up Migrant Women think that £300,000 will not go very far given the number of migrants vulnerable to domestic violence in the UK .

What is domestic abuse?

The government is going to clarify what is meant by domestic abuse in the domestic violence bill but in the view of the best London divorce solicitors many people need help now in understanding just how wide ranging domestic abuse is.

Domestic abuse takes many forms and includes:

  • Physical abuse; ranging from a vicious assault to a punch or push;
  • Sexual abuse; this is all types of unwanted sexual contact;
  • Psychological or mental abuse; this includes  derogatory remarks or belittling someone so that they feel worthless;
  • Harassment; ranging from stalking to online harassment at a place of work or on social media platforms;
  • Coercion and control; this can include financial control and restricting a partner’s access to money.

Many people do not recognise that a shove or restricting access to life outside the family home is abuse or coercion but in the eyes of UK family law, it is. The best London divorce solicitors find that it is not always just the perpetrator of the domestic abuse who thinks that the situation is acceptable. Often victims of domestic abuse will respond by normalising or justifying the behaviour. That is why support is so vital.

The impact of domestic abuse

Most experts are agreed that being subjected to or witnessing domestic abuse can lead to:

  • Low self-esteem;
  • Isolation from friends and family.

Often spouses take the decision to leave when they see the impact that adult domestic abuse is having on their children.

Injunction court orders

An injunction order is a family court order to protect a spouse, partner or children from domestic abuse.

An injunction is a court order that stops a named person from taking a step, such as:

  • A non- molestation injunction; stopping an assault or harassment by an ex- partner or spouse or third party; or
  • An occupation injunction; ordering a spouse or partner to leave a family home on a temporary basis.

If you are concerned about your children, the court can also make an urgent child arrangements order. A child arrangements order is like the old style custody and access orders and settles where the children should live and whether they should have contact with their other parent.

What are the grounds for an injunction order?

The grounds for an injunction order depend on the injunction order that is sought from the court.

If you are worried about your safety or the physical or emotional safety of your child, top London divorce solicitors can assess your options, including the option of applying for an injunction order.

How long does an injunction order last?

Normally injunctions are temporary orders that help a family until the family or the court is able to make long-term decisions about the custody and access a child or what should happen with the family home. However, an injunction order can be an essential step to safeguard a family until long term decisions can be made over housing and childcare arrangements.

How can OTS Solicitors help you?

OTS Solicitors divorce and family law team advise on all aspects of family and children law. We provide sensitive, caring advice and can talk to you about your options if you have or are experiencing domestic violence or abuse.

For a confidential discussion about how we can help you and your family, give OTS family law team a call on 0203 959 9123.

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