Family law advice: Domestic violence

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Continuing the series of family law Q&A collaboration between Expatriate Law and ExpatChild.

This was originally posted on the ExpatChild Facebook page on 8th April 2020, and further on social media. You can view the original here.

Domestic abuse: emergency protection and advice

I am in danger. What can I do to protect myself?

If you are in immediate risk, you should call 999 immediately or the emergency services where you live, and they will be able to assist.

What are the legal remedies available to me?

There are two legal options available

  1. A non-molestation order; or
  2. An occupation order.

Who can apply for a non-molestation and occupation order?

You need to be an “associated person” which includes the following:

  • Current/previous spouses or civil partners
  • Cohabitants or former cohabitants
  • Live or have lived in the same household other than one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder
  • Are relatives (e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, step-parents and step-children)
  • Have agreed to marry or enter into a civil partnership
  • Have or have had an intimate personal relationship which was of significant duration
  • Are both parents or have or have had parental responsibility of a child
  • Parties to the same family proceedings

How long does the order last?

Typically, non-molestation orders last for a period of 6 – 12 months. They can be granted for longer depending on the circumstances. Usually after 12 months if there is a continued ongoing risk a further application for an order would be made.

What do I do if my spouse breaches the protection order?

The breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison. If an order has been breached, please call the police and inform them as soon as it occurs.

The breach of an occupation order is not a criminal offence; however, the power of arrest can be attached to the order. The penalty can range from two years in prison to a fine of up to £5,000.

I am a British expatriate and I currently live abroad, how can I protect myself?

Contact the police if you are in an emergency situation. If you do not feel safe to do so, there are refuges and charities who will be able to help. They often have online web chats and email services and can be contacted that way.

Can I obtain an order from the English court even if I live abroad?

The court will have jurisdiction to deal with an application for a non-molestation and occupation order if there are already ongoing proceedings in the courts in England and Wales (i.e. the courts of England and Wales have seized jurisdiction). We have recently obtained a non-molestation and occupation order for a client living abroad.

What if the acts have occurred abroad, can the court still help?

The court will have jurisdiction if there are ongoing proceedings in England and Wales. If there are a lack of protective measures available where you live and there is a very real risk of further violence in the event that no protective measures are taken, the court may take action to ensure your protection.

What can I do if I know someone at risk of domestic violence?

If you have concerns or are worried about a family member or a friend who may be at risk of domestic violence, make sure to contact them on a regular basis. Whilst they may not feel comfortable to discuss the situation, they know that someone is there to help.

You can also read more on how to help someone here.

Throughout this COVID-19 outbreak, all Expatriate Law solicitors are working remotely including telephone and video appointments to ensure we are able to continue to help. If you need help, please contact us.

If you have been affected by any of these issues and would like to receive further advice then please do get in touch with us via our website or email

We are currently providing telephone and video appointments.

Sponsored article from Expatriate Law

Alexandra Tribe:
Managing Partner
Expatriate Law : +44 203 006 1664
F: +44 808 280 0130
Whatsapp: 00447711189439

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