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Domestic Abuse

Family Law

Meet Sarah Finnis

Both men and women may experience domestic violence and abuse and it comes in many forms. Those who are subjected to violence, control, abuse or harassment are entitled to seek assistance from the courts to protect them.

Our Family Law team are available at our offices in Ashford, Canterbury and Herne Bay to offer you advice.

There is no excuse for domestic abuse. Whether you are married or not court applications can be made to protect you and any children from domestic abuse and we would encourage you to seek help as soon as possible.

In the event of a real emergency it may be possible to make an immediate application for an injunction, without the other party even knowing about it.

Non-molestation order

A non-molestation order is a court order that can protect you and any relevant children from violence, harassment and communication from another individual. Molestation means far more than suffering actual physical violence, but it could include threats of violence, harassment, emotional or verbal abuse.

When the court is deciding whether or not to make a non-molestation order it will consider the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of the applicant and any relevant child.

Occupation order

An order may be obtained permitting you to occupy the property and restricting or ending the right of the other person to occupy the property.

The criteria for making an occupation order is complex and the range of orders available differ depending upon your "relationship" with the property you occupy and with the other party.

Broadly speaking, however, the court will take into account:

  • Your respective housing needs and resources of any relevant child
  • Your respective financial resources
  • The impact on each of you of making an order
  • The conduct of each of you.
Agencies offering advice and support

For further advice, please contact a member of our Family Law team based in Canterbury, Ashford and Herne Bay.


Our Experts

Sarah Finnis

Head of Department
Family Law

Amanda Wilson

Partner
Family Law

Gemma Purt

Partner
Family Law

Curtis Wray

Associate Solicitor
Family Law

Megan Mahesan

Assistant Solicitor
Family Law

Related Pages

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is domestic violence or abuse?

With respect to applications for non-molestation orders and occupation orders, whilst the legislation specifically refers to molestation, the term ‘molesting’ is not specifically defined. The following behaviour can qualify as molestation or domestic abuse:

  • Acts of, or, threats of violence
  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Coercive control
  • Gaslighting
  • Financial abuse
  • Persistent communication
  • Attending at an individual’s home uninvited
  • Sending abusive messages
  • Searching through personal items
  • Sending derogatory images to third parties.

The court will consider the perpetrator’s behaviour and the effect that it is having on you. The above list is not exhaustive and domestic abuse comes in many different forms.

What protection can I get for domestic violence/abuse issues?

If you are in immediate danger you should contact the Police for immediate emergency assistance.

If you are experiencing domestic violence/abuse it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law team who will be able to take urgent steps, as required, to protect your safety and welfare. This may include arranging an immediate appointment with a view to issuing emergency proceedings. It is possible that the court may list a hearing within 24 hours of your application being filed, possibly, the same day on which you contact us.

It is possible to seek protective injunctions. An injunction is a type of court order which specifically prohibits specific actions or conduct. For example, you can apply for a non-molestation order to prevent an individual from coming within 100 metres of you or attending at your property and an occupation order to regulate who can live in the family home.

An application for an injunction can be made without the need to notify the perpetrator of the abuse of the initial hearing. This is known as an ex-parte application. Following the initial ex-parte hearing, the perpetrator will be given notice of the court proceedings and the date for the next hearing but, by then, the court may have granted an injunction providing you with protection.

What are the effects of domestic abuse on children?

Witnessing domestic violence and abuse at a young age can be traumatic and affect the child’s overall health, education, general wellbeing and how they develop relationships with other people. A non-molestation order and/or an occupation order can provide protection for you and also your children.