What are the laws that are designed to protect against Domestic Violence in the UK?

Domestic Violence in the UK

Domestic Violence is currently a huge issue in the UK and often involves violence between married couples but can also extend to violence towards children etc. Currently for women aged between 19 and 44, domestic violence is the leading cause of morbidity – greater than cancer, war and motor vehicle accidents.

An extremely high percentage of those who suffer from domestic violence are women.

Legislation

What legislation exists in the UK to deal with domestic violence?

Offences in relation to domestic violence are covered by Part IV the Family Law Act 1996 which has been amended by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

Offences Against the Person

Many forms of domestic abuse will take the form of an offence against the person. This is a criminal offence which will carry a jail term or a fine depending on the seriousness of the offence.

If I have suffered or am suffering from domestic violence, what are the options available to me?

If you are suffering domestic abuse at the hands of another you can apply to obtain a court order called an injunction which can prevent various things from happening. Under Part IV of the Family Law Act the following two options for an injunction are available:

  1. An occupation order
  2. A non-molestation order

Occupation Order

An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home. An occupation order can also restrict your abuser from entering the area surrounding the family home. An occupation order is often used when someone does not feel safe continuing to live with their partner, or if they have left home because of violence, but then want to return and exclude their abuser.

Non-molestation order

A non-molestation order is aimed at preventing a person’s partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against that person or their child child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering that person in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of that person and their children.

Who can apply for one of the above orders?

Under Part IV of the Family Law act in order to apply for one of the above orders you must be an “associated person”.

What is meant by the term associated person?

If you are an associated person it means that you and your partner or ex-partner must be related or have an association which each other in one of the following ways:

  • You are still or have been married to each other
  • You are still or have been in a civil partnership with each other
  • You are cohabitants or former cohabitants
  • You live or have lived in the same household
  • You are relatives
  • You have formally agreed to marry each other – this still applies even if the agreement has now ended
  • You have a child together – this can include both those who are parents of the same child and also those who have parental responsibility for the same child
  • You are both involved in the same family proceedings – for example divorce of child contact

Changes brought about by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (DVCVA) brought about two significant additions to the above list of associated persons. They are as follows:

  • Amending the definition of cohabitants
  • Creating a new category of associated persons

Definition of cohabitants

Section 3 of the DVCVA amends the definition of cohabitants to include same-sex cohabitants. This means that the rights of same-sex cohabitants are brought in line with the rights of heterosexual cohabitants enabling them to allow for an injunction on the grounds of being a cohabitant rather than being part of the same household as the respondent.

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For more information on:

  • New Category of Associated Persons
  • What is meant by the term intimate relationship?
  • What is meant by a significant duration?
  • What if I do not fall within the scope of an associated person?
  • How long will it take to obtain an injunction?
  • How long will an injunction under the Family Law Act last?
  • Extension of the orders
  • Non-molestation orders
  • Occupation orders
  • What happens if an order is breached?
  • Occupation Order
  • Non-molestation order
  • Domestic Violence Helpline