Domestic Violence Solicitors
Domestic violence affects nearly 2 million people in the UK each year, and it’s important to know that if you are suffering, you are not alone, and there is help available. Whether you are suffering from physical abuse, emotional manipulation or coercive control, no one should have to live with the threat or fear of domestic violence.
Overwhelmingly, victims tend to be female, with roughly 7 women per month murdered by their partner or ex-partner, with many more taking their own lives as a result of domestic abuse. Men are also affected, and the impact on children who are caught up in abusive relationships can be severe and long lasting.
At Clifford Johnston & Co, we have a dedicated team of solicitors who work to support victims of domestic abuse, helping them to get the legal protection and assistance that they need. We specialise in providing advice and representation, and we offer compassionate support in strict confidence to anyone trapped in an abusive relationship.
Please note, all family law matters handled by Clifford Johnston & Co. are privately funded. We are not able to take cases funded through legal aid.
If you need help we are here for you; contact us today and we will support you in every way that we can.
Recognising domestic abuse.
Domestic violence is defined as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.”
Examples of domestic violence include:
- physical abuse (including hitting, punching and biting)
- coercive control or emotional abuse (behaviour or behaviours including assault, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or any other abuse intended to harm, frighten or punish)
- sexual abuse (rape and sexual assault)
- harassment (stalking, unwanted contact).
Victims who are at the most risk tend to experience multiple types of abuse, and the facts show that incidents of domestic violence are rarely a one-off; abusers usually go on to repeat the behaviour, and their abuse tends to become progressively more serious as time goes on.
This is why it is crucial to seek help as early as possible to help minimise the risks and harm to you and anyone else affected.
Speaking to someone about what is happening is the first step; if you are in immediate danger we recommend calling the police for urgent assistance. If you are not immediately at risk, but you wish to take some action about the situation you find yourself in, talking to a solicitor with experience and knowledge of this area of the law will offer you support and a clear path towards protecting yourself from further abuse.
Our experts will listen to you and advise you on the best steps to take; they may advise you to apply a court order, communicating with your partner on your behalf, and they can put you in touch with agencies and sources of support who can help you.
Seeking help as a victim of domestic violence.
If you are attacked, assaulted, or harassed, in the first instance you should report the incident to the police, who can arrest the person responsible. They can be charged and required to appear in court, and if released on bail in the meantime they can be subject to certain conditions.
Our family law solicitors can then advise you on the next steps to take. We can apply (on your behalf) for a court order to protect you from any further abuse. There are two types of injunction:
- A non-molestation order- this is a document that when served on someone makes it an offence for them to threaten, harass or be violent in any way towards you or your children, and can also prevent them from instructing or inciting anyone else to threaten or commit violence. If any of the terms of the order are breached, the police can arrest the abuser for committing a further offence, which can be punishable by substantial financial penalties or imprisonment. An emergency non-molestation order can be put into place immediately but only lasts for 28 days. This can give you enough time to put together a case to secure a permanent non-molestation order. Our experienced domestic violence solicitors can assist you in preparing a case.
- An occupation order- this is a legally binding order that sets out who can and cannot enter a property. This allows you to live in the family home and can exclude your partner for the duration of the order. It can also prevent your partner from being within a certain distance of the address. The terms of the order can be broad, and the Court can consider the specifics of your case when making an order. If your partner breaches any of the terms of the order, the police can immediately arrest them.
You can seek an occupation order even if the home is not owned by you, or rented in your name. In the case of rented accommodation, the court can transfer the tenancy into your name, and may also order the abuser to make payments towards the rent or mortgage where this is a concern. The application process is similar to applying for a non-molestation order, and if granted, the Court will define the terms based on your situation, factoring in arrangements for any children involved.
It may be possible under certain circumstances to apply to the Courts for protection to get an urgent or emergency court order, if you feel that your safety is at risk and that waiting to pursue the standard route may take too long. In these instances, an emergency hearing may be held without the alleged abuser even being notified.
The court will decide whether or not the situation merits an emergency order, and they will only grant one if they are convinced that the matter is sufficiently serious and comes with an unavoidable time limit. If granted, an emergency order tends to be short term, and you may need to apply for another - however it will at least buy some time to enable you to work with your solicitor to consider the next course of action.
Domestic violence and children
We know that domestic violence can have devastating and long-term consequences on the children and young people impacted by it, both physically and mentally. There are measures that we can take that are designed to protect your children if they are experiencing domestic abuse.
- Child arrangements orders – these are legal agreements which set out where your child should live, who they should spend time with, and who they are allowed to see.
- Specific issue or prohibited steps orders – an application can be made to the family court to obtain a specific issue or prohibited step order; they can deal with a specific question or area of concern which may arise concerning your child. This can relate to issues such as their education, medical treatment or where they might live and can legally prevent a parent from making a decision or taking an action without the agreement of the other parent.
If you have any concerns about the safety or wellbeing of your child, or you need advice about the steps that you can take to protect them from an abusive partner, speak to us, and one of our experienced and friendly team will talk to you about the options available to you.
Support available to victims of domestic abuse.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are several organisations who offer support and assistance:
- National Domestic Abuse helpline: a freephone 24-hour helpline providing advice and support to women, and they are able to refer you to emergency accommodation if necessary. www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
- Refuge: a helpline offering support to women, who can also provide safe, emergency accommodation throughout the UK. Their website also includes information for me. www.refuge.org.uk
- Women's Aid: a website providing a range of resources to help women and young people, offering legal and housing advice and tips creating a safety plan. www.womensaid.org.uk
- Respect - Men's Advice Line: a confidential helpline for men who are experiencing domestic violence. They offer emotional support, practical advice, and practical assistance relating to issues including legal, housing, and mental health. www.mensadviceline.org.uk
How Clifford Johnston & C0. can help.
Being the victim of physical, psychological, or emotional abuse can leave you feeling isolated, or unable to see a way to escape from your situation. At Clifford Johnston, there is always someone you can turn to. Our experienced and compassionate solicitors have extensive experience of helping clients to protect themselves from an abusive situation. We understand that this can be a frightening and stressful time, and we will stand by your side, offering expert legal advice; whether you need help to prepare a case, to apply for a court order, or advice on where you can seek immediate, practical assistance, we can help.
Based in Greater Manchester, we work with clients throughout the North West, England and Wales, and our domestic violence and family law team will do everything that they can to support and advise you.
Our team of experienced Domestic Violence Solicitors will deal with your enquiry sensitively and with understanding. Contact us today for helpful and supportive advice.
Our Family Lawyers are based at both of our offices in Stockport & in Manchester. Their vast experience makes them an integral part of our team of Family Solicitors in Stockport.
With offices in Stockport (Heaton Moor) & Manchester (Burnage), our domestic violence solicitors are easily accessible. We represent clients not only locally throughout Stockport and Cheshire, Lancashire & Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. We act regularly for clients from across the North West and Cheshire including Altrincham, Hale, Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Knutsford.
You can count on us to help and guide you whatever your challenge or circumstance.
During the current Covid 19 crisis we can make arrangements to take instructions from you by telephone or video conferencing and will still be able to access the courts to deal with any emergency applications which may need to be made.