Nobody should have to live with domestic abuse, but we know that many people feel trapped, unsure what they can do and doubtful that they will be believed. If you or a loved one have been a victim of domestic abuse, reaching out for help is the first step.
At Lewis Denley, we are here to make your life easier and to keep you safe. Our Family Law team can offer immediate, practical support to help protect you and your loved ones from domestic abuse. We can take swift action to remove your abuser from your home and prevent them from causing you and your loved ones further harm.
Our Senior Associate Solicitor Marwa Hadi-Barnes has over 14 years’ family law experience, including helping people to deal with the challenging issues surrounding all forms of domestic abuse. Marwa has been recognised for her standout family law expertise in leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.
Based in central Horsham, our domestic abuse lawyers help clients across Sussex, Surrey and beyond, including in Rudgwick, Billingshurst, Crawley, Ewhurst, Gatwick, Copthorne, Pulborough, Dorking, Reigate, Godalming, Guildford, Midhurst and Brighton.
We want our domestic abuse legal advice services to be as accessible as possible, so are committed to complete transparency with our fees.
We take pride in being approachable, sensitive and here for our community.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation with Marwa Hadi-Barnes to discuss how we can help with domestic abuse and injunctions.
Types of domestic abuse we can assist with
There are many different forms of domestic abuse. Our domestic abuse lawyers can offer swift, effective support for all types of abuse, including:
- Domestic violence
- Verbal domestic abuse
- Emotional domestic abuse
- Psychological domestic abuse
- Financial abuse
- Coercive control
- Domestic sexual abuse
- Domestic abuse of children
- Forced marriage
How we can help you with domestic abuse & injunctions
Using domestic abuse injunctions to protect victims of domestic abuse
There are various injunctions victims of domestic abuse can apply for in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from a partner or former partner. While you can apply for these yourself, having an experienced lawyer to help you can make the process less intimidating and ensure you complete the application accurately and as quickly as possible.
Our domestic abuse solicitors can assist with all types of injunctions, including:
These orders can protect you from threatening, intimidating or harassing behaviour, as well as stopping your partner from contacting you (both directly and through third parties). These orders can also be used to prevent your partner coming within a certain distance of you. The order typically lasts for 6-12 months and your partner can be arrested if they breach the terms of a non-molestation order.
These can be used to force your partner to leave your shared home and prevent them from returning. This order typically lasts 6-12 months and can have a ‘power of arrest’ attached, which would mean your partner could be arrested if they breach the terms of the occupation order.
Divorce advice for victims of domestic abuse
If you are married or in a civil partnership and a victim of abuse, you may wish to move ahead with divorce proceedings. This can be a difficult step to take emotionally, but with the right legal support, the practical side of getting divorced can be kept relatively straightforward.
Our Horsham family lawyers can help with:
- Initiating divorce proceedings
- Applying to a family court for a Financial Order to separate your finances from your spouse/civil partner and give you financial independence
- Applying to a family court for a Child Arrangements Order to make sure your children are kept in your care
Domestic abuse & injunctions FAQs
What counts as domestic abuse?
When many people think about domestic abuse, they tend to focus on physical violence, but there are many forms of domestic abuse and they can all be very harmful.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has referred to domestic abuse as ‘any behaviour deployed by an offender to obtain control or power over another’. This can include physical violence and threats of violence, but also many other types of controlling behaviour, including emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.
Sadly, many people do not realise they are victims of domestic abuse as the behaviour they are subject to may be subtle and might fall outside what most people think of as domestic abuse.
Is domestic abuse a reason for divorce?
Yes, domestic abuse can be used as a reason for divorce. It falls under the provision of ‘unreasonable’ behaviour, meaning there is no need to wait to get divorced. As long as you have been married for at least a year, you can start divorce proceedings straightaway.
Please note: Under the terms of Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 due to come into effect in autumn 2021, there will no longer be any need to give a reason for divorce when initiating divorce proceedings. This should make the divorce process simpler and less potentially contentious for victims of domestic abuse who may worry that their spouse or civil partner will attempt to defend the divorce or dispute the allegation of domestic abuse
Is domestic abuse a crime?
There is currently no specific offence of ‘domestic abuse’ under English law, but many forms of domestic abuse are crimes. For example, assault, harassment, criminal damage, rape and attempted murder are all offences that domestic abusers can potentially be charged with, depending on the circumstances.
If you wish to pursue criminal charges, our team will be happy to refer you to a criminal lawyer specialising in supporting victims of domestic abuse.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour used by an abuser to control their victim’s behaviour. It often involves a mixture of assault, threats, intimidation, humiliation and other forms of harmful behaviour. Victims of coercive control frequently end up exploited, isolated, deprived of their independence and with their behaviour heavily controlled by their abuser.
Coercive control is a specific criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
Who can I talk to about domestic abuse?
As well as seeking advice on your legal options to deal with domestic abuse, there are many different organisations that have been set up to support to victims of domestic abuse. These include:
- The National Domestic Abuse Helpline – a free, 24-hour helpline for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
- Refuge – providing advice, support and refuge services for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.
- Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid – providing advice and services for women and children suffering from domestic abuse.
- Safe in Sussex – providing support to victims and survivors of domestic abuse
- Mankind – a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse.
- Men’s Advice Line – offering confidential advice for men experiencing domestic abuse.
- Ashiana – supporting Black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee women, as well as children and young people in England who are experiencing domestic abuse, forced marriage and honour-based violence.
- Respect Not Fear – providing information for young people on domestic abuse and abusive relationships.
- The Hide Out – providing information for young people who are experiencing domestic abuse.
- The Forced Marriage Unit – a joint initiative between the Foreign Office and the Home Office to support victims and potential victims of forced marriage.
Our domestic abuse legal advice fees
We are committed to transparency with our domestic abuse legal advice fees, so will always be upfront about the costs involved, including our fees and any third-party costs.
We offer fixed fee advice where appropriate and will be happy to discuss all the likely costs involved once we have a clearer picture of your requirements, which is something we can cover during your free initial consultation.
Book a free 30-minute consultation to discuss how we can help with domestic abuse legal advice
We want to make sure that everyone who needs it gets the right support for dealing with domestic abuse. If you have any questions about how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Our specialist domestic abuse solicitor will be happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation in complete confidence over the phone or via videoconference.
To arrange your free 30-minute consultation, please contact Marwa Hadi-Barnes today.