Welcome to another week.
Figures recently obtained from the Ministry of Justice confirm that there has been a sharp rise in the number of domestic abuse victims seeking non molestation orders through the family courts. It has been suggested that victims are turning to the court system because police are failing to enforce the law.
Ministry of Justice data has revealed that the number of non-molestation orders granted last year was 25,707, indicating an increase of almost 10% since 2016. The number of orders issued also represents the highest for a decade.
The government is now being pressured by campaigners to pay for police training, rather than pass the financial burden on to police forces who are already struggling as a result of budget cuts and mounting work loads.
Victims of domestic violence can apply for an injunction, or non molestation order, through the courts, to protect themselves and their children from an abuser. The injunction can also be used to decide who lives in the family home and who can enter surrounding areas, and is called an occupation order. The person named in the injunction can be arrested if they break either of these orders.
Applying for an order is free.
In order to apply for either or both of these orders, you will need to:
- See if you’re eligible to apply first
- Download and fill out form FL401, and then make two copies
- Write your witness statement explaining to the court what has happened, and ask for the relevant order.
- At the bottom of your witness statement you will need to write a statement of truth. The following words can be used: “I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.” Then sign and date the statement.
- IMPORTANT: If you would like to keep your child’s and your address and telephone private, then fill out form C8 along with form FL401
- Send your forms to a court which deals with domestic violence cases. You can find your nearest court-house here.
If you or your child are facing an immediate threat of harm, you can ask for an emergency order. This can be done using your form FL401, by ticking the box in Section 3 (The Order/s For Which You Are Applying), which reads:
Tick this box if you wish the court to hear your application without notice being given to the respondent. The reasons relied on for an application being heard without notice must be stated in the statement in support.
This process is called a ‘without notice’ or ‘ex-parte’ application, as you don’t have to tell the person you want protection from, that you’re applying for the emergency order. Inside the form, explain why you need an emergency order. This kind of order usually lasts until you go to court for your hearing.
Once the court holds a hearing, (which you will need to attend), it may then issue an order. If an order is issued, you will then have to tell the other person involved that an order has been made.
IF YOU ARE 17 YEARS OLD AND UNDER
Anyone under the age of 16 will need to apply to the High Court for permission to apply for these injunctions.
Anyone aged 16 or 17 will need a litigation friend to represent them in court. A litigation friend can be a parent, family member, or personal friend.
Once you’ve sent in your form/s, you will need to arrange for the person you’ve brought the injunction against to be notified about your application. You can do this by sending a copy of your application and witness statement to the person named inside the application. Delivering a legal document in this way is called ‘service’, and as a process it involves making sure the person gets a copy of the documents in person.
If you have a solicitor they will do this on your behalf, or you can ask the court to serve the documents for you.
The court will also give you a document called a ‘Notice of Proceedings’, which will include a date and time for you to come to the court to talk about your case.
If the person you have brought the injunction against chooses to challenge your application, you may need legal representation. Legal aid is offered if you have been a victim of domestic abuse or violence.
As always, if you are worried that you or your child could be in serious danger or you have already experienced abuse, please report your concerns to the police.