The government has announced plans to abolish the £75 fee charged for taking out a domestic violence injunction from 22 April onwards. The plans form part of an overhaul of the fees charged in civil and family courts in England and Wales and it is hoped that the move will help vulnerable domestic abuse victims.
The fee is currently charged for non-molestation and occupation orders. Non-molestation orders help with prohibiting certain behaviour in order to protect the applicant and any children of the former relationship. Occupation orders prohibit one party from entering or approaching a house or property for a period of time, even if they are the legal owners.
Both are very useful tools in helping victims of domestic violence deal with what has happened and to put measures in place to try to prevent the abuse from reoccurring. It is thought that more than 20,000 applications for non-molestation and occupation orders were made in 2012.
Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said: “We are scrapping the fee for domestic violence injunctions to make sure there are no unnecessary barriers between people and the help they need. And people who cannot afford court fees do not have to pay – they can apply for waivers using the means-tested remissions system.”
Legal aid is still available for victims of domestic violence, as long as they can provide the required evidence in relation to their financial means. (See our guide for more information on legal aid for family law). For those victims seeking legal aid to deal with other related matters, such as divorce and children, it is still available to them as long as they can provide the required evidence that they have been a victim of domestic violence. Evidence that can be used to access legal aid includes a Non Molestation Order, evidence of police bail for a domestic violence offence, a Domestic Violence Protection Order, evidence of referral to domestic violence support services from a health professional and evidence of being able to access domestic violence refuge accommodation.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, the team of family law solicitors at Farleys can help. We can assist by sending a warning to the perpetrator or, in more serious circumstances, assisting you in making an application to the Court for a protective injunction, namely a Non Molestation Order. If you have been a victim of domestic violence and need legal aid to deal with a related matter, Farleys can assess your eligibility for legal aid to deal with that and will help you along each step of the way.