Sadly there are times when a person may find themselves in fear for their personal safety as a result of the actions of a partner or family member. In these circumstances, advice can be given as to the options for obtaining the most effective protection given the individual circumstances.
The Police have considerable powers in this area and we can help in liaising with the Police in order to achieve effective protection. In the event that this is not adequate, we can advise and assist in achieving further protection through the civil court. This is a highly specialised area often requiring urgent attention and priority will be given in such circumstances.
When a relationship breaks down, there are issues within your relationship or as a result of the end of it, which result in you feeling unsafe or in fear of your own or your children’s safety. You may have experienced some unpleasant incidents or threats and feel that you need some help managing that kind of behaviour.
In the first instance, it is always worth speaking to the police about any particular concerns that you may have. The reason for this is that if they can help, and often they can, it won’t cost you anything. If they are unable to help for whatever reason, your discussions with them may mean that you have logged a complaint with them and that may be valuable evidence at a later stage. Although this may seem a bit worrying, the police have officers that are trained to deal with issues of domestic violence or abuse.
It may be necessary to apply to the Court for orders that protect you and/or your children which are called ‘Non Molestation orders’ and perhaps an order that sets out who lives in a house that you may have shared with your current or former partner, known as ‘Occupation Orders’. The seriousness of your situation may depend on how quickly an order can be obtained.
How long will it take to sort it out?
This may depend on the type of order you may need and whether you want a warning letter sent first to see if that helps. This will be discussed with you so that you can decide how best you think to deal with your own individual circumstances. If you are at immediate risk, orders are usually available from the Court very quickly and without notice to the other party. Whilst orders of the Court are available, it is up to you how you want to deal with it, and that may depend on what has been happening. One of our very experienced lawyers will talk to you to find out your circumstances and then give you options about how you can start to resolve things. Together, we can find a way forward that is tailored to your situation and the final decisions remain with you.
Will I have to go to Court?
If you decide you need an order of the Court, you will need to be ready to attend Court with your lawyer.
Who will go to Court with me?
Either your chosen solicitor will go to Court with you, or we will instruct a specialist Barrister to represent you at Court (only after discussion with you). You can have your solicitor there as well, although if you have a specialist Barrister represent you at Court, it is a lot more expensive to have your solicitor there as well. It is your choice though, and will be discussed with you beforehand.
Will I be in a room with my (former) partner?
Separate waiting rooms can be requested. In the actual Courtroom, you will see your former partner, however, you will not be on your own at any time. Sometimes, it is possible to ask for a screen to be erected in the Courtroom so that you do not have to see your former partner.
What if he/she doesn’t come to Court?
As long as we have been able to personally serve the other party copies of the papers and relevant orders made by the Court, then the Court can make an order in their absence.
What happens once I have an order?
The other party needs to have a copy of the order and sometimes, it is appropriate for the police to have a copy too. If there are problems after the order is made, you may need to call the police and/or refer the matter back to your solicitor and perhaps the Court in order to deal with those further issues. This is known as enforcement and there may well be further costs as a result of further court proceedings.
What if I don’t want to go to Court?
As above, all of your options will be discussed with you so that you can think about the best way forward for you and your family. Sometimes, things settle down and with care and proper advice, you can still sort things out more amicably. It really depends what has been happening and how you feel about the situation. If you want to try to sort things out amicably, do not be afraid to consider options such as mediation. Do make sure though that you mention any worries that you have so that they can be properly addressed. It is better to talk about these things early on and get the right information and assurances.
How much will it cost?
Depending upon your financial circumstances, legal aid may be available for injunction orders. We hold a contract for legal aid work and therefore if you are eligible, we are able to access this funding on your behalf. If you need to find out your eligibility for legal aid, please feel free to contact us.
If you do not qualify for legal aid, we will agree a fee for whatever work you want us to do on your behalf. We can offer fixed fee services in this regard. If your situation does not fit into our current fixed fee, we will agree costs with you before anything is done so that you know what you will need to pay and can budget for those costs.