Expert, caring and sensitive legal advice.
Woolliscrofts are able to respond quickly to urgent situations.
Woolliscrofts fully understand and appreciate the need to respond quickly to requests for help in cases of domestic violence. The violence may be physical, sexual or psychological. It may be inflicted by anyone with whom you are in a domestic relationship, or have been in the past – for example, your spouse, partner, or child.
We discuss your needs and consider how to protect you. An application for an injunction may be made to the court so that your abuser is prohibited from coming near you. Any order that is obtained may also carry a Power of Arrest providing you with immediate and effective protection.
As well as obtaining legal protection for you, we can give legal advice in relation to your children including maintenance, the family home and rights of occupation, and other legal issues.
Options available to people affected by violence
If you are the victim of a violent relationship, get immediate practical advice on the options available, which may be to:-
- attempt to stop the violence and stay with the perpetrator of the violence
- leave home temporarily
- leave home permanently
- stay in the present home and get the perpetrator of the violence to leave
- take legal action.
Finding somewhere safe to stay
If you are a victim of a violent relationship you may need somewhere safe to stay, either alone or with your children. The options are:-
- stay at home if you think this is safe
- stay with relatives or friends
- stay in a women’s refuge. This is only an option for women (with or without children)
- get emergency accommodation from the local authority under homeless persons law – this will usually mean a bed and breakfast hostel
- get privately rented accommodation.
Women’s Aid Refuges
Women’s Aid Refuges are safe houses run by and for women suffering domestic violence. Refuges provide somewhere safe for women and their children to stay and allow some time and space for the woman to think about what to do next.
Staff at refuges are specialised in dealing with domestic violence, and so can give a lot of emotional and practical support, for example, advice on benefit claims, which solicitors to use and, if necessary, how to contact the police.
To find out your nearest refuge with spaces available, you should contact the National Domestic Violence helpline. The freephone helpline number is 0808 200 0247. Helpline staff will do their best to find you somewhere safe to stay that night even if the local refuge is full. They are also happy to talk to women about any questions they have about refuges.
Going to the local authority
You will normally be considered to be legally homeless if it is not reasonable for you to occupy your home because of the risk or fear of domestic violence. Local authorities, or housing executive in Northern Ireland, should deal sympathetically with applications from people who are in fear of violence. You can ask for a private interview, with someone of the same sex, and can take a friend with you for support.
The local authority may have a duty to provide interim accommodation for you while it decides whether you are legally homeless.
Going to privately rented accommodation
If you decide to go into privately rented accommodation you will be unlikely to be able to arrange it quickly. This is really only an option for people who have time to plan their departure and can afford this accommodation.
Getting in touch
Once you have found a safe place to stay short-term, you will need to think about what to do in the longer term. You will need to consider:-
- whether you wish to permanently separate from your partner. You should seek legal advice in relation to the available Legal Remedies and Procedures
- whether you want to take action to keep the violent partner away from you. You should seek legal advice in relation to the available Legal Remedies and Procedures.
- Housing – Your legal rights to the family home will depend upon the type of housing you leaving, the legal status of your relationship and whether or not you have children. You should get legal advice to ensure that you do everything possible to protect rights to the family home. You should seek advice about the family home even if you are leaving permanently because, if your partner sells the home, you may lose money and possessions
- Children – If you have children you will need to decide if you are taking the children with you. You may need to use the courts to resolve who the children should live with and with whom they should have contact. You should seek legal advice. Also see Legal Remedies and Procedures
- Money – You will need to sort out your benefit entitlement and tax arrangements and whether or not to apply to the court for maintenance for yourself. You may also want to apply to the Child Support Agency for a maintenance assessment for your children. If you claim certain benefits, you will automatically be contacted by the Child Support Agency, and you should keep in mind that claiming maintenance from a violent partner could be distressing or threatening.
If you want to discuss legal protection for yourself and your children, consult a solicitor who is experienced in matrimonial work. This is, obviously, where Woolliscrofts can assist you.
You should make an appointment as soon as you feel ready, and can, obviously, bring somebody along with you for support if you so wish.
The initial interview may last quite a long time, during which we would discuss with you what courses of legal action are open to you.