Any victim of domestic violence should always inform the police immediately who will investigate and arrange for the victim to be moved out of the place where the violence occurred (most usually the matrimonial home) and placed at a refuge where they (and their children if they have any) can be safe from harm or from even being contacted or found by the violent person. Places in refuges can also be found by calling the national domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. Addresses of refuges are not publicised and it is very unlikely that victims can be contacted by those who used violence against them.
The remedies available to victims in the civil courts are extremely effective and easily exercised. The Family Law Act 1996 introduced 'non-molestation orders' and 'occupation orders' for the benefit of victims.
A non-molestation order tells the violent person not to commit violence against the victim, threaten or pester the victim or contact the victim or to instruct or encourage anyone else to do so. The same can apply to the victim's children if he or she has any. If the violent person breaks any of the terms of that order they can immediately be arrested and can be sent to prison.
An occupation order tells the violent person to leave the home and not make any attempt to re-enter it or go within a certain distance of that home. For example, a woman who applies for this type of order can have her violent boyfriend or husband forcibly removed (by the police if necessary) from the home and if he makes any attempt to re-enter, he can be arrested and can be sent to prison.
Both these orders can be applied for by seeing a solicitor. Victims who cannot afford to pay legal fees do not have to do so because their legal fees will be paid by legal aid depending on the victim's level of income.
Both orders can be applied for at the same time even in an emergency and can be granted on the same day without the violent person being present at court. At Fawcett & Pattni Solicitors clients frequently come to us in the morning and leave court the same afternoon with the full protection of the court for themselves and their children from domestic violence. The violent person is informed later on after the judge has granted the orders and can immediately be removed from the family home if necessary. We have often had to enforce orders against violent people who have been sent to prison for the protection of their victims.
Bharti Pattni has been specialising in Family Law for over 25 years and is extremely experienced in this field, dealing personally with most clients and overseeing all cases that come to the firm. She is a member of the Solicitors Family Law Association and the Advanced Level of the Family Law Panel, she has given seminars to domestic violence forums and trained volunteers to help at women's refuges in the area. She does most advocacy in court in person and clients always leave feeling satisfied.
At Fawcett & Pattni Solicitors, we offer a friendly and informal atmosphere where victims can come with their children and give detailed statements of their situation for use in court and receive accurate and sympathetic legal advice on how best to deal with their situation. All details of victims' circumstances are kept strictly confidential.
If you know anyone who may be in need of legal advice regarding domestic violence or other family matters such as divorce or children then we would be happy to speak to them between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday on 01922 640424 to arrange an appointment even in an emergency.