Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Abuse
What is legal aid?
Where there is evidence of domestic abuse you may be entitled to free legal advice and assistance. The Legal Aid Agency have merits and means criteria, which means that we have to show that you require urgent assistance to obtain a protective order and that your income and capital are below certain limits.
Where you are receiving a passported benefit (ESA, JSA, UC) this will usually mean that you are pass the means criteria without further means assessment. If you are working, then the legal aid agency will need to check you meet their means criteria limits.
What order will my Solicitor apply for?
A non-molestation order - also known as an injunction/protective order. This order will forbid your former partner from doing certain things such as contacting you, using violence against you, attending your property. It has an automatic power of arrest which means that your former partner can be arrested if they were to breach the order.
Where there is a dispute over who should be living in a property that you both have the right to occupy (such as where a tenancy is in joint names) then you may be able to apply for an Occupation Order. This Order regulates who lives in the property and your solicitor will advise you further about this.
What other documents does my Solicitor need?
If you have evidence such as messages or emails from your former partner, you can provide these to your solicitor who can decide whether it would be helpful for the Judge to see them and they can then be attached to your statement.
If you have police reference numbers you can also provide these to your solicitor.
If there have been any previous proceedings including those relating to children then let the Solicitor know and they can tell you what documents might be helpful in your case.
If you have photographs of any injuries suffered or damage to property caused by your former partner then you can provide these to your solicitor too.
What is the process?
Once the legal aid assessment is done which can take place as soon as we have your means evidence, a Solicitor will contact you to discuss the statement that has been prepared on your behalf which sets out the background and the reasons you are making the application.
Once you have approved your statement, the Solicitor will send it to Court. The Court have guidelines for issuing urgent applications which is currently 72 hours.
The Court will inform the Solicitor of the date of the first hearing and they will let you know when your application will be heard by a judge.
Sometimes it is on the same day that the court receive the application and sometimes it is around a week later.
The Solicitor will update you about this and explain the process to you both verbally and by letter.
You can always email the solicitor if you have any questions.
Will I have to go to court?
Your application will be sent to the court closest to where you are living. Currently, most court hearings are taking place remotely by telephone or online so it is unlikely you will have to go to court.
You will still need to be available for the hearing on your phone/computer. If you have to go to court then we can ask for a separate entrance/waiting area to keep you safe.
Will I have to speak in court?
Your solicitor will advise you about this but usually the Judge will direct any questions to your solicitor.
How long until I have an Order?
Sometimes the Judge will make the order at the first hearing without any notice of your application being given to your former partner. Another hearing will then be listed within 14 days to give your former partner the right to respond to your application.
Other times, the Judge will want to hear what your former partner has to say and will list the application for an on notice hearing first which your former partner will be invited to attend.
The Judge will then make a decision as to whether to make an Order at that hearing or wait until he has seen a statement from your former partner. Usually the Court want to play it safe and will allow the Order so that you have some form of protection whilst waiting for your former partner’s statement to be done and another hearing listed.
How does my former partner get the order?
If we get a court order, then we will arrange to personally serve it on your former partner using a process server (like a bailiff) who will hand the order to them.
What do I do if anything else happens/there are further incidents?
You should report any other incidents to the police, keep a record of any incidents and let the Solicitor dealing with your case know about it.
Can I ask for an Order relating to the children?
It may be possible to apply for orders relating to the children such as an order to stop your former partner removing them from your care or an order that they live with you. You should ask your solicitor about this and they can advise you fully.
The team at HAB Law are here to help and support you.
And we’re ready to talk when you are.