Protection from Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is defined as controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those who are or have been intimate partners or family members. The abuse can encompass but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

Often the first port of call for a victim of domestic abuse will be the police who can reprimand, and where appropriate, arrest and charge the offender. In these circumstances, bail conditions may be imposed which provide the victim with some protection and the offender might be prosecuted through the Criminal Courts. However, where the police involvement does not afford any protection, an application can be made to the Family Courts.

What orders can the Family Court make 

The priority is to ensure the families safety, including any children. The orders that the court can make are :

  • A Non-molestation order prohibiting one party from harassing, pestering, molesting, using or threatening violence against the other party or the children.
  • An order that the other party does not encourage a third party to harass, pester, molest, use or threaten violence. 
  • An Occupation order regulating who is to occupy a property and where appropriate ordering one party to leave and /or not return.
  • A Zonal Restriction order that the other party does not come within the surrounding area of the property.
  • An order the other party pay some or all of your costs of the application.
  • In some specific cases, the court can make the orders without the other party receiving notice of the application. 

How do the court decide whether to make an order?

The court must look at all the circumstances. This includes the health, safety and well-being of the applicant and any children, the conduct of the parties and any risk of harm. 

When deciding whether to make an occupation order, the court will consider the access to housing of both parties, and their children. The court would apply a balance of harm test, weighing up 

  1. the suffering that would result to the excluded party in making the order 
  2. the suffering that would result to the Applicant and any children if the order is not made. 

Sometimes the matter can be dealt with by the court accepting undertakings (solemn and binding promises to the court)  that the other party will not behave in a certain way or that they will leave or not return to a property.

If an order or undertaking is breached, it can lead to imprisonment.

Do I have to pay for assistance?

Cases of domestic abuse which require a court Order can be eligible for legal aid funding. It should be borne in mind that the criteria for such funding is now restricted and subject to a strict evidential basis. Any client seeking Legal Aid will need to satisfy the relevant criteria which can be found here Legal aid: Domestic abuse or violence – GOV.UK (

How we can help? 

Staffordshire Family Law Solicitors specialise in all areas of family law and therefore can support you by providing advice on protection from domestic abuse, as well as the issues that arise from the breakdown of the abusive relationship, such as the arrangements for the children and the longer term financial matters. 

We realise that as a victim of domestic abuse, you may be feeling vulnerable and need sensitive and empathetic lawyers to give practical and legal advice. We also understand that sometimes, the matter is of considerable urgency, if there is a risk of further harm and will act quickly to take steps that will afford you with protection. 

If you need assistance, contact one of our solicitors at [email protected] or call 01785 336617 for expert legal advice.