The information on this page is a guide only. Should you wish to proceed, you should obtain legal advice from a professional.
Legal aid can help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you could be eligible for legal aid. To access legal aid, you will need to show that:
- You or your family are at risk of abuse or serious harm.
- The problem is serious.
- You can’t afford to pay for legal costs.
In order to access legal aid for domestic violence, you will also need to provide additional evidence of abuse. The documents which can be used as evidence are:
- The perpetrator has been convicted of a domestic violence offence against them and that conviction is unspent.
- The perpetrator has accepted a caution for a domestic violence offence against them within the past 24 months.
- The perpetrator is on police bail for a domestic violence offence.
- The perpetrator has received a Domestic Violence Protection Order.
- The perpetrator has a binding over order for a domestic violence offence.
- You are ongoing criminal proceedings in respect of a domestic violence offence against them.
- You have a protective injunction (such as a non-molestation or forced marriage protection order) in force or one had been made within the past 2 years.
- The perpetrator had given an undertaking in respect of domestic violence and the undertaking is still in force or had been made within the past 2 years and where no cross undertaking has been given.
- You have been referred to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference as a victim of domestic violence and a plan is in place within the past 2 years.
- You have a report from a doctor, nurse or midwife confirming they were examined in respect of an injury or condition consistent with domestic violence within the past 2 years.
- You have been assessed by Social Services as experiencing or being at risk of domestic violence within the past 2 years.
- You have a letter from a refuge confirming that they stayed there for a period of more than 24 hours within the past 2 years.
- You have been assessed by a psychologist as experiencing or being at risk of domestic violence within the past 2 years.
- You have evidence from a domestic violence support service where they have been referred by a health professional.
- You have been unable to access refuge due to insufficient accommodation.
How can the legal system help?
They are various legal recourses available to you as a victim of domestic violence. You may decide to file an injunction or obtain protection from harassment.
What is an injunction?
An injunction is a type of court order which either forbids an abuser from carrying out certain acts, such as being violent, or orders them to do certain things, such as leave the home. There are two types of domestic violence injunctions available: non-molestation orders and occupation orders.
You can only apply for a non-molestation or occupation order if you are associated to your abuser.
You are associated to your abuser if you:
- Are or were married or in a civil partnership (it does not matter how long ago the marriage or civil partnership ended).
- Are or were engaged to be married or had agreed to form a civil partnership.
- Are or were living together (this includes same-sex and opposite-sex couples).
Live or have lived in the same household, for example as a flat share (but not as a tenant, border, lodger or employee).
Are relatives, including: parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews or first cousins (whether by full-blood, half-blood, marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation).
- Are parents of the same child.
- Have or have had parental responsibility for the same child.
- Are parties to the same family proceedings for the same child.
- Are or were in an intimate personal relationship of significant duration
A non-molestation order can:
- Forbid your abuser from being violent towards you or any children in your family, from threatening violence or from harassing, pestering or intimidating you in many different ways (including, for example, by text message).
- Forbid your abuser from coming within a certain distance of your home.
- Forbid your abuser from damaging or disposing of your belongings.
You may also choose to file an occupation order which deals with who lives in the family home. An occupation order can:
- Order your abuser to move out of the home or to stay away from the home.
- Order your abuser to keep a certain distance away from the home.
- Order your abuser to stay in certain parts of the home at certain times (for example, it can order the abuser to sleep in a different bedroom).
- Order your abuser to allow you back into the home if they locked you out.
- Order the abuser to continue to pay the mortgage, rent or bills.
What if I am not legally associated to the abuser?
If, according to the law, you are not associated to your abuser, you may be able to obtain protection under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which makes it a criminal offence to harass someone or make them fear that violence will be used against them. An incident of harassment could be a text, answer-phone message, letter or email, a comment or threat, standing outside someone’s house or driving past it, or, an act of violence.
To get protection from harassment, you should contact the police who may be able to take action against the person responsible. They may warn the abuser of the consequences of their behaviour (sometimes referred to as a harassment warning) or arresting them for the criminal offences of harassment or putting someone in fear of violence.
The criminal courts can make a restraining order following conviction of the person responsible for harassment or putting someone in fear of violence. A restraining order can prohibit the harasser from doing anything specified in the order including using or threatening violence, communicating with a person (by phone or email) or going to certain places (the victim’s home or place of work).
For more information on legal aid, injunctions and protection from harassment, contact
Swindon Women’s Aid http://www.swindonwomensaid.org/contact
Wiltshire Police http://www.wiltshire.police.uk/contact-us
Swindon Citizen’s Advice Bureau https://citizensadvice.citizensadvice.org.uk/bureau_detail.htm?serialnum...
Rights of women http://rightsofwomen.org.uk/contact-us/