What are Non-Molestation Orders and Child Arrangement Orders – How can they help victims of domestic abuse?

The TV and Film Industry are demonstrating the importance of spreading awareness of Domestic Abuse and empowering victims to find their voices to get help and support. Colleen Hoover’s Sunday Times bestselling book called ‘It Ends with Us’ has been adapted into a film starring Blake Lively, Justin Baldoni, and it is being released on 9th August 2024.

The film highlights how victims feel trapped in a relationship where they are being physically and / or emotionally abused. The trailer explains that “As hard as the choice is, the pattern needs to be broken, or the pattern will break us”. This quote signifies that victims need to be made aware of the support that they can receive so they can leave their abusers and prevent themselves from being exposed to further harm.

In recent weeks, the soap opera Emmerdale has also been showcasing a storyline between characters Tom and Belle who portray a married couple to highlight the coercive and controlling behaviours of perpetrators of domestic abuse and the detrimental impact on victims. The storyline has raised awareness  as to the different forms of domestic abuse.

When people think of domestic abuse, most people consider this to be physical abuse. However, Courts recognise that ongoing emotional abuse is also a type of domestic abuse. There are other types of domestic abuse which are not as well-known  such as Love Bombing and Gaslighting which we  explore in greater detail below.

What  are Love Bombing and Gaslighting?

The terms Love Bombing and Gaslighting are used to describe some  victims’ experiences of emotional abuse. Love bombing involves a pattern of someone giving another person in a relationship excessive affection and attention as a way of manipulating them and gaining power over them. An example can be buying someone presents and complimenting them constantly, but then stopping them from having access to their bank accounts or preventing them from seeing their friends and family.

Gaslighting is where someone deliberately tells lies and gives false information to another person which leads them to question their own memory and perceptions. This can involve the  victim being asked questions such as “ are you sure about that?” or the perpetrator refusing  to listen causing the victim to doubt themselves by saying “I don’t know what you are talking about”. It is important that these terms are recognised to help people identify this behaviour and know that it is wrong.

How does Domestic Abuse impact Children?

On 24th November 2023 the Office of National Statistics released a document called “Partner Abuse in Detail, England and Wales: Year Ending March 2023” which outlines the amount, type, and nature of partner abuse experienced in the last year. The document included information from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) which confirmed that almost one-third of households where there was a victim of partner abuse,  also had at least one child under the age of 16 years living there at the time of the abuse (32.4%).

If you are a victim of domestic abuse , there are applications that can be made to the Family Court to  seek urgent help and protection for you and your children.

How can a Non-Molestation Order protect me and/or my children?

A Non-Molestation Order is an injunction that is made to prohibit an abuser from using or threatening physical violence, intimidating, harassing, pestering, or communicating with you. The Order could also prevent the perpetrator from coming within a certain distance of you, your home address, attending your place of work, and even coming into contact with your children  at their school/nursery.

The application for a Non-Molestation Order must be made against an “associated person” which includes (but is not limited to) married or divorced couples, civil partners,  engaged or formerly engaged couples, and cohabitees. The Court will consider  a variety of things such as the health, safety, and wellbeing of the  person making the application to court and any relevant children, when deciding whether to make a Non-Molestation Order.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order from the Court details the arrangements for a child(ren), including where the child(ren) will live and how they will spend time with each parent. The Order is legally binding on the parents of the child(ren)  and usually lasts until the child is 18 years old unless the Order states otherwise.

The purpose of a Child Arrangements Order is to  formalise  the arrangements  that the Court deems to be in child(ren)s best interests. When dealing with an application for a Child Arrangements Order, the Courts will also take into consideration whether a parent has been the victim of domestic abuse and whether  the child(ren) has been exposed to this domestic abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, then the Court can also grant permission for special measures to be  put in place such as separate waiting areas and screens during Court Hearings to support you and make the experience of attending court less stressful.

How we can help you

Whether a Non-Molestation Order or a Child Arrangements Order is  appropriate very much depends on the individual circumstances of each case. Our experienced and compassionate Family Team at MSB are able to assist you if you  believe you may need one or both of these court applications.

We are here to help, so please contact us on 0151 281 9040 if you would like to discuss any family law issues that you may have with our award-winning team.

It Ends with Us
Emmerdale has been showcasing a storyline between characters Tom and Belle

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